Members > Karina Benessaiah

Asst. Prof., University of Guelph

My research focuses on understanding how people adapt to rapid, multifaceted social-ecological changes - often called crises - and assessing societal and environmental transformations. Environmental changes, economic recessions, globalized trade are all drivers of change that shape livelihoods and environments around the world, often in unexpected ways. Understanding the processes involved in those social-ecological transformations highlights emergent vulnerabilities and potential opportunities towards sustainable and equitable pathways. I use approaches and methods from global land change, political ecology, resilience, and sustainability science to study these dynamics. I am specifically interested in three broad and interrelated domains: 1) understanding adaptations and transformations, 2) identifying and addressing teleconnections and 3) 'socializing' ecosystem services (i.e. integrating social science insights into ecosystem services research).

I have also been involved in several projects that integrate arts and sciences to frame and communicate research differently. My latest project involves co-producing a documentary on alternative sustainability initiatives that emerged during the recession in southern Europe, see To do so, I co-founded a transmedia film cooperative,, whose aim is to support and promote sustainable and just transitions.

- How do sustainability initiatives scale-up? Situating seeds in Montreal and Athens
- Inequality and ecosystem services
- Back-to-the-land movement in Greece during economic crisis
- Illicit economies and social-ecological change - the unexpected effects of the cocaine trade on livelihoods and ecosystems in Central America
- Adaptation to climate change in Nicaragua
- Understanding the impacts of small-scale aquaculture on livelihoods in Nicaragua

Key research Interests: adaptation, transformations, social-ecological, crisis, livelihoods, agency, human wellbeing, ecosystem services, teleconnections, governance

Skype: karina_benessaiah

Member Since: 2017