Originally from the midwestern factory town of Decatur, Illinois, I married into a southern family and headed to Mississippi via Nashville, Tennessee. The people and places of the region intrigued me, and I quickly identified it as my new home. Over the course of time, the southern region (and its position in broader global trends) has come to occupy the primary place of my research and teaching career.
I graduated from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, and then followed with a Master of Science diploma in Sociology from the same institution. I wrote my thesis on the conflict surrounding the siting of a hazardous waste facility in a rural Mississippi community. During undergraduate and graduate studies, I worked as a research assistant at the Social Science Research Center.
Wanting to further my education, I went to The University of Missouri-Columbia and completed a Ph.D. in Rural Sociology. I focused my dissertation research on evaluating the social movement for grassroots economic development led by community-based cooperative organizations. This involved mixed-methods research and partnerships with nonprofit organizations operating at local and international levels, especially the Rural Coalition.
I joined the faculty in the Division of Social Sciences at Delta State University in 2002, beginning with an appointment as Assistant Professor of Sociology and Community Development. That fall, I founded the Institute for Community-Based Research, a collaborative network of faculty, students and nonprofit organizations. In January 2003 I started my work as Graduate Coordinator for the M.S. in Community Development program. I was awarded tenure and promotion to the rank of Associate Professor in 2008. While at Delta State University I also served as Interim Chair of the Division of Social Sciences, Acting Chair of History, and Director of the Center for Community and Economic Development. Serving an 18-county region, the latter organization provides technical assistance, research, and capacity building services. The Center administers a broad portfolio of externally funded grants and contracts.
Moving to Oxford, I began my position as Director of the Center for Population Studies at The University of Mississippi in July 2011. The Center seeks to educate, conduct research, and engage in public outreach concerning population issues. Additionally, I serve as Professor of Sociology.
I am actively involved in scholarly organizations, as illustrated through my formal leadership roles in the Community Development Society, Southern Rural Sociological Association, Rural Sociological Society, and the Alabama-Mississippi Sociological Association. I was awarded the Delta State University Foundation Prizes for Excellence in Service and for Excellence in Research, the Rural Sociological Society’s Award for Excellence in Extension and Public Outreach, and the Community Development Society’s Ted K. Bradshaw Outstanding Research Award. Furthermore, I have served two terms as Editor-in-Chief of Community Development, an official peer-reviewed journal of CDS.
I approach my investigations through applied research and community-based research frameworks. This involves engaging with public agencies and nonprofit organizations seeking to use research to inform community and regional problem solving. Furthermore, I work closely with students. We use applied multi-method (e.g. fieldwork, focus groups, surveys, secondary data analysis) projects to develop knowledge and build skills that supplement what students learn from the more traditional classroom.
My research is eclectic in regard to substantive topics, including community development, rural sociology, research methods, demography, health, and agrifood systems. There are three important themes that I am particularly interested in: 1) individual, household, and community vulnerability and resilience in the face of economic and environmental change; 2) health and wellbeing disparities and access to services; and 3) the challenges and successes experienced by people working in agrifood systems, especially limited-resource and minority producers.
I am embarking on an a series of initiatives focused on better integrating the community-based research framework – which is often mischaracterized as being inherently qualitative – with quantitative approaches to research and evaluation. This includes in-depth attention to the ways in which quantitative data are collected, analyzed, and used for developing knowledge, evaluating programs, and making decisions. Through ongoing engagement, I seek to open up both sides of the qualitative versus quantitative traditions with the hope of improving population studies in evaluation of social development initiatives.
In terms of settings, I am deeply involved in research projects located in Mississippi, especially the Gulf Coast and Delta regions. Additionally, I regularly participate in broader multi-state projects, especially those focused on rural communities and regions. Much of my work entails travel beyond the mainland U.S. and to international destinations (e.g. Jamaica, Mexico, Northern Ireland, and South Africa). I have been involved in a multi-year project in Hawaii and the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands, especially Guam, Saipan, and American Samoa. In all of these travels, I seek to explore and better understand community development in a broader global context.
Selected Recent Publications
2017. “Community Development in the Era of Large-Scale Data: Integrating Quantitative Data and Community Engagement.” In S. Kenny, B. McGrath, & R. Phillips (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Community Development. Routledge, Taylor & Francis.
2012. “Who Counts Reality and Why it Counts: Searching for a Community-Based Approach to Quantitative Inquiry.” Journal of Rural Social Sciences 27 (2):137-149.
2012. Anna Kleiner, Katie Kerstetter, and John Green. “Community-Based Research: Analysis of Outcomes for Learning and Social Change” (Introductory Essay to a Special Issue). Journal of Rural Social Sciences 27 (2):1-11. JRSS.2012.27.2.1-11.pdf
Community Development & Rural Sociology
2015. John Green, Tracy Greever-Rice, & Gary Glass, Jr. 2015. “Sociodemographic Snapshots of the Mississippi Delta.” In J. Collins (ed.), Defining the Delta: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the Lower Mississippi River Delta. The University of Arkansas Press.
2014. “The Status of African Americans in the Rural United States.” In C. Bailey, L. Jensen, & E. Ransom (eds.), Rural America in a Globalizing World: Problems and Prospects for the 2010s. West Virginia University Press.
2014. Katie Kerstetter, Molly Phillips, & John Green. “Collective Action to Improve Rural Community Wellbeing: Opportunities and Constraints in the Mississippi Delta.” Rural Society 23 (3): 256-268. doi:10.5172/rsj.2014.5267
2011. John Green, Eleanor Green, & Anna Kleiner. “From the Past to the Present: Agricultural Development and Black Farmers in the American South.” In A. Alkon and J. Agyeman (eds.), Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class and Sustainability. MIT Press.
Health & Health Systems
2016. Joseph Holland, John Green, Molly Phillips, & Laura Alexander. “School Health Policies: Evidence-Based Programs for Policy Implementation.” Journal of Policy Practice 15 (4): 314-332. doi:10.1080/15588742.2015.1081580
2014. Katie Kerstetter & John Green. “Fundamental Causes of Health Disparities: Associations Between Adverse Socioeconomic Resources and Multiple Measures of Health.” In J. Jacobs Kronenfeld (ed.), Research in the Sociology of Health Care, Volume 32. Emerald. doi:10.1108/S0275-495920140000032022
2013. John Green & Debarashmi Mitra. “Intersections of Development, Poverty, Race, and Space in the Mississippi Delta in the Era of Globalization: Implications for Gender-Based Health Issues.” In Kevin Fitzpatrick (ed.), Poverty and Health in America. Praeger Publishers.
2011. Alexander Freiman, JoLynn Montgomery, John Green, Dana Thomas, Anna Kleiner, and Matthew Boulton. “Did H1N1 Influenza Prevention Messages Reach the Vulnerable Population Along the Mississippi Gulf Coast?” Journal of Public Health Management and Practice 17 (1): 52-58. doi:10.1097/PHH.0b013e3181fb8002