Dr. Michèle Companion is an associate professor at The University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Her teaching and research interests include food and livelihood security issues, law, federal Indian policy, Native communities, indigenous rights, international development, social movements, social problems, and gender issues. She received her Ph.D. (2003) in Sociology from the University of Arizona. Her dissertation was entitled “Embracing Autonomy: The Impact of Socio-cultural and Political Factors on Tribal Health Care Management Levels.”
Dr. Companion has worked extensively as a food and livelihood security consultant to international humanitarian aid organizations. She has worked in countries such as Malawi, Mozambique, Angola, South Africa, Ethiopia, Egypt, Somalia, and Haiti with organizations that include Save the Children – US, USAID, Counterpart International, FEWSNET, International Relief and Development, and Global Food and Nutrition, Inc. Her work in this area focuses on the expansion of food security indicators to increase local sensitivity to food crisis triggers. Her most recent work focuses on female street food vendors: their opportunities, exclusion, and issues of sexual violence.
Her research with Native American tribes includes tribal health care management systems, public policy opportunities that arise for reservation populations as a result of changes in laws, and the impact of tribal participation in specific development programs on reservation health outcomes. She has spent the last several years focusing on reservation nutritional dynamics, including impacts of low income diets on overall health and on reservation food security issues. She has also been documenting tribal participation in the food sovereignty movement to reclaim cultural aspects of traditional foods. She has worked extensively on reservations across the southwest.
More recently, she has been focusing on urban Indian populations. Again, the issues of food security and long-term health implications frame her focus. In addition to urban food secuirty, she has been looking at cultural barriers to healthy eating among low-income urban Indian populations. She has been working with various urban Indian Centers across the United States to pilot educational modules aimed at increasing food access, improve health outcomes, and helping urban Indians reconnect with cultural aspects of traditional foods. This includes establishing “Bucket Brigades.” This multiphasic program teaches container gardening to both adults and children.
Key Words/ Specialties:
food security, livelihood security, food sovereignty, gender, Native America, Africa, famine, urban gardens
Colorado, Colorado Springs