Hanson Nyantakyi-Frimpong

Associate Professor

  • Faculty

What I do

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography & the Environment at the University of Denver.


Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, Political Ecology

Professional Biography

As a political ecologist, Hanson Nyantakyi-Frimpong’s research focuses on questions at the intersection of the human dimensions of global environmental change and sustainable agriculture and food systems. Much of his work is underpinned by participatory and long-term ethnographic research, with extensive field experiences in Ghana, Malawi, and Morocco. His current research focuses on climate change maladaptation and the politics of forest-based natural climate solutions. Prior work from 2012 to 2022 has focused on developing a political ecology understanding of food insecurity, undernutrition, diversified agroecological farming systems, and vulnerability and adaptation to climate change. This long-term research has been done in close partnership with farmers to maximize the utility of results for social and political change. At the heart of his research is also a commitment to centering the voices of Indigenous people not only as sources of empirical knowledge, but also as producers of social science theory. He has done this using participatory GIS, bird’s-eye photovoice, social network diagramming, drone-based participatory mapping, environmental theatre, and social X-ray mapping.

He has authored over 50 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and received several awards for advancing innovative methods for studying climate change and sustainable agriculture. These awards include the recipient of the 2021 Distinguished Scholar Award from the Africa Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers. His work has appeared in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Global Environmental Change, Global Change Biology, Climate and Development, Land Use Policy, Applied Geography, The Professional Geographer, Geoforum, and Journal of Peasant Studies, among other journals. Hanson’s research has received generous support from the National Science Foundation, Center for International Governance Innovation-Canada, International Development Research Center-Canada, Land Deal Politics Initiative, and the University of Denver’s Center for Community Engagement to Advance Scholarship and Learning.

He is a Contributing Author of the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He currently serves as Editor for the journal Gender, Place & Culture. He also serves on the editorial boards of Agriculture and Human Values, and Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems.

He received his Ph.D. in Human Geography from The University of Western Ontario, Canada.


  • Ph.D., Geography, The University of Western Ontario, 2014

Professional Affiliations

  • American Association of Geographers
  • Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society
  • African Studies Association


At present, Dr. Nyantakyi-Frimpong is working on two main interrelated projects, with a broader goal to contribute to protecting the Earth’s resources and achieving a sustainable and just society. The first project focuses on climate change maladaptation, defined as when adaptation actions do not address future climate change and may reinforce existing vulnerabilities or introduce new risks. He is particularly interested in understanding how intersectional dimensions of inequality increase the risks of maladaptation and ex-ante approaches to minimizing these risks. Informed theoretically by a decolonial lens, he is further exploring whether and how maladaptation experiences identified through western scientific perspectives align or differ from those perceived by Indigenous groups.

His second project focuses on natural climate solutions, particularly those focused on food and water insecurity. He is interested in applying critical social theory to studying nature-based solutions like agroforestry and forest restoration projects, particularly their embodied effects, soil health outcomes, justice and equity implications, and the forms of inclusion and exclusion they create. He is also studying the results when conventional climate adaptation projects are uncritically rebranded as “natural climate solutions” to attract aid funding. This project weaves together and contributes to the literature on climate justice, critical development studies, and second-generation political ecology.

Graduate Research Supervision: He welcomes inquiries from prospective DOCTORAL students interested in any of the above research themes or cognate fields. All email inquiries should include (1) an updated CV, (2) information on potential field site(s) for high-quality research, (3) a description of prior fieldwork experience (preferably in a rural/agrarian context), and (4) a sample first-authored or single-authored peer-reviewed publication.Opportunities for community-based research/data gathering are possible through his grants on social learning on carbon sequestration and forest-based natural climate solutions.

Areas of Research

Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change
Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems
Political Ecology

Featured Publications

Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H. (2021). How identity enriches and complicates the research process: Reflections from political ecology fieldwork. The Professional Geographer, 73(1), 38-47.
Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H. (2021). Climate change, women's workload in agriculture, and embodied political ecologies of undernutrition. Health & Place, 68, 102536.
Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H. (2020). Climate change, land expropriation, and zai agroecological innovations by smallholder farmers. Land Use Policy, 92, 104469.
Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H. (2020). Intersectionality and smallholder farmers' vulnerability to climate extremes . Gender, Place and Culture, 27(11), 1536-1554.
Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H. (2019). Climate information service delivery and knowledge flows among smallholder farmers. Applied Geography, 112, 102079.
Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H. (2019). A feminist political ecology and participatory GIS approach to understanding climate change vulnerability and seed bank failures . Geoforum, 105, 109-121.
Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H. (2017). Agricultural Diversification and Dietary Diversity. Geoforum, 86, 63-75.
Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H., & Bezner-Kerr, R. (2015). The Relative Importance of Climate Change in the Context of Multiple Stressors in Semi-arid Ghana. Global Environmental Chang, 32, 40-56.
Dinko, D. H., & Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H. (2023). Uneven Geographies of the Embodied Effects of Water Insecurity among Women Irrigators in Northern Ghana. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 1-20.


Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H. (2022). Gendered Surplus People and Maladaptation to Climate Change . Invited Talk, Centre of African Studies Seminar Series, University of Edinburgh, Scotland .
Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H. (2022). How Well Do Nature-Based Climate Solutions Address Gender Equity?. Invited Talk, Multi-hazard Risk and Resilience Workshop, University of Western Ontario, Canada.
Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H. (2021). Climate Change and Global Food Security. Invited Lecture, Masters Program in Global Affairs, University of Notre Dame.
Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H. (2021). Maladaptation to Climate Change . Invited Talk, Colloquium Series, Centre for Development Studies, University of Cambridge.
Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H. (2020). Hidden Intersections: Gender and Resilience to Climate Change. Invited Talk, Geography Seminar Series, Portland State University.
Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H. (2020). IRBs and International Development Fieldwork. Invited Talk, Church Teachers' College, Jamaica.
Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H. (2019). New Insecurities: Climate Migrants, Belonging, and Adaptation . Invited Talk, The 7th Annual Conference of the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs, Middlebury College.
Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H. (2019). Capturing Water in Sahelian West Africa: Innovations and Challenges. Invited Talk, The Africa Center, Colorado State University.
Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H. (2019). The Biophysical Contradictions of Climate-Smart Agroforestry. Invited Talk, W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation, University of Montana.
Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H. (2018). Seed Banks and Smallholder Farmers' Resilience to Climate Change . Invited Talk, African Studies Seminar Series, Pennsylvania State University.


  • Excellence in Research Award (2021-2022), College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics, University of Denver
  • Outstanding Junior Faculty Award (2020-2021), College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics, University of Denver
  • Emerging Distinguished Scholar Award (2021), American Association of Geographers, Africa Specialty Group