Profile picture of Joel Matheson

Joel Matheson

Global Studies
Office: Friendly 30
Research Interests: Agriculture Development, Food Studies, Nonprofit Management, Social Movements, Agroecology, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Diplomacy


Joel Matheson is a graduate student in the Global Studies master's program at the University of Oregon. He is expected to graduate in June of 2024 with a M.A. in Global Studies, a Food Studies Specialization, and a Nonprofit Management Certificate. Originally from Idaho, Joel earned his Bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies from Boise State University. Prior to his enrollment at the University of Oregon, Joel served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Jamaica for two years, where he actively engaged with the local community on climate-smart agriculture initiatives.

During his time at the University of Oregon, Joel took classes courses covering a wide range of global issues including sustainable agriculture, local-global dynamics, and food sovereignty. He also gained practical skills in areas such as fundraising, financial management for nonprofits, and proposal writing. Joel embarked on numerous transformative experiences, visiting 7 countries during his time as a Global Studies scholar, which enriched his academic journey and global perspective.

Joel is writing a master’s thesis titled "The Challenges of Smallholder Farming in Jamaica." In the summer of 2023, Joel traveled to Jamaica for four weeks, interviewing 11 smallholder farmers and 6 key stakeholders in the Jamaican government, NGOs, and international development agencies. This research was sponsored by prestigious fellowships and awards, including the George and Conni Slape Fellowship, the Global Oregon Graduate Award, the Food Studies Scholarship, the Coverdell Fellowship, and the Thurber Award.

Continuing his quest for knowledge and cultural immersion, Joel participated in an intensive Spanish immersion program in Medellin, Colombia, also in the summer of 2023. This opportunity, sponsored by the Professional Development Graduate Scholarship from the University of Oregon, further enhanced his language skills and cross-cultural understanding.

As a research intern, Joel collaborates with Dr. David Meek from the University of Oregon and Dr. Bernardo Mançano Fernandes from the University of São Paulo on a project aimed at identifying socio-territorial and socio-spatial patterns across the U.S. through passive data collection. In the summer of 2023, he visited Brazil, sponsored by UNESP University in São Paulo, to further collaborate with scholars on the project. A research paper is to be published on this research and culminate in a presentation at the LATINMOV Research Conference at Queen Mary University of London in September 2024.

Additionally, Joel journeyed to Greece during the Fall term of 2023 to study food and culture in Athens and Crete. With the guidance of Dr. Stephen Wooten, who organizes the University of Oregon Greek Food and Culture study abroad summer trip, Joel connected with renowned scholars and local communities to deepen his understanding of global food systems.

Further showcasing his commitment to sustainable development, Joel attended a WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) research conference in Kenya during the Winter term of 2023. During his visit, he gained insights into container-based sanitation by visiting an informal settlement in Nairobi and connecting with the local community. Furthermore, he explored innovative climate-smart agriculture initiatives in Kakamega with the organization Eco2Librium.

With a diverse range of experiences and a passion for global engagement, Joel Matheson is poised to make a significant impact in the field of international development. Armed with a Master's degree in Global Studies, a specialization in Food Studies, and a certificate in Nonprofit Management, Joel is eager to apply his knowledge and skills to address pressing global challenges. His extensive research, cultural immersion experiences, and hands-on involvement in sustainable development initiatives demonstrate his commitment to effecting positive change. As Joel looks towards his future career, he is driven by a desire to continue working at the intersection of academia, research, and practical application, contributing to sustainable solutions and fostering global cooperation for a better world.