James Burchfield

James Burchfield

Retired, Professor of Forest Social Sciences


Personal Summary

I have been fortunate to have experience as both a rural sociologist and a forester, as my major interest centers on how people may reside and interact with forest and grassland settings in a productive, harmonious manner. I am curious about the manner in which science-based tools can improve the effectiveness of community groups in the development of plans and activities on forested lands. I received my academic training at the University of Washington and the University of Michigan, and my PhD dissertation explored the success of voluntary associations among small private woodland owners. Recent work has examined the effects of wildfires on rural communities and the implications of stewardship contracting on public lands. Prior to becoming the Associate Dean, I was the Director of the Bolle Center for People and Forests at the University of Montana. For nearly 20 years I worked for the USDA Forest Service in Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington, with a three year assignment in Washington D.C. as a policy analyst in the International Program Office. I also spent three years in the mid-1970's as a Peace Corps Volunteer in a small rural village in northern Guatemala. It was there that I came to learn beekeeping, as well as the dignity, humor, and resiliency of the human spirit in the face of hardship.


1991 PhD. Natural Resources (Sociology). University of Michigan. Dissertation title: "Grassroots forest landowner associations in the eastern United States: A comparative study of structure and function."
1986 MFR (Silviculture). University of Washington. Thesis title: "Managing red alder for sawtimber production."
1973 B.S. (Forest Management). University of Michigan

Research Interests

Forest Community Relationships
Social Assessment