• Jesse Rodenbiker
  • Jesse Rodenbiker (on leave AY 23-24)
  • Assistant Teaching Professor
  • Office: Lucy Stone Hall Room B-244
  • Phone: 848-445-4355
  • Research Interests: environmental governance, urban geography, inequality, displacement, political ecology, sustainability, biodiversity, oceanic and archipelagic geographies, China
  • Degrees: (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley)
  • Core Faculty, Graduate Faculty

Curriculum Vitae

Research Website and Lab

Google Scholar Profile

I am a human-environment geographer and interdisciplinary social scientist. My work focuses on environmental governance, urbanization, sustainable development, and social inequality in China and globally. My published works intersect with environmental science, policy, and planning, urban geography, and political ecology. Support for my research has come from the American Council of Learned Societies, Social Science Research Council, and the Wilson Center. I am the author of Ecological States: Politics of Science and Nature in Urbanizing China (2023, Cornell University Press).

Ecological States critically examines ecological policies in the People's Republic of China to show how campaigns of scientifically based environmental protection transform nature and society. While many point to China's ecological civilization programs as a new paradigm for global environmental governance, I argue that ecological redlining extends the reach of the authoritarian state. Although Chinese urban sustainability initiatives have driven millions of citizens from their land and housing, I show that these migrants are not passive subjects of state policy. Instead, they creatively navigate resettlement processes in pursuit of their own benefit. However, their resistance is limited by varied forms of state-backed infrastructural violence. Through extensive fieldwork with scientists, urban planners, and everyday citizens in southwestern China, Ecological States exposes the ways in which the scientific logics and practices fundamental to China's green urbanization have solidified state power and contributed to dispossession and social inequality.

Ecological States is freely available in an open access edition through the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

Rodenbiker EcologicalStates CUP cover

Before joining Rutgers, I held a Cornell Atkinson Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Sustainability with the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at Cornell University. I obtained my Ph.D. in Geography from the University of California, Berkeley where I was affiliated with the Center for Chinese Studies, Global Metropolitan Studies, and Left Coast Political Ecology. At Rutgers, I teach courses on Cities, Conservation, East Asia, and Environment, Society, and Justice.

I am on leave during the 2022-2023 academic year as an Associate Research Scholar at Princeton University with the Center on Contemporary China at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, a fellow at the American Council of Learned Societies, and a China Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Selected Publications:

Rodenbiker, J. (2023). Ecological States: Politics of Science and Nature in Urbanizing China. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. 

Rodenbiker, J. (2023) Urban Oceans: Social Differentiation in the City and the SeaEnvironment and Planning E: Nature and Space. 6(1) 412-432. 

Rodenbiker, J. (2022). Social Justice in China's Cities: Urban-Rural Restructuring and Justice-oriented PlanningTransactions in Planning and Urban Research1(1-2): 184-198.

Rodenbiker, J. (2022) Green Silk Roads, Global Development, and Environmental Governance: Belt and Road Infrastructures on the Sino-East African FrontierCritical Asian Studies. DOI: 10.1080/14672715.2022.2150249 

Rodenbiker, J. (2022) Geoengineering the Sublime: China and the Aesthetic StateMade in China Journal. 7(2): 140-145 

Rodenbiker, J (2022). Adapting Participatory Research Methods for Reflexive Environmental Management. Qualitative Research. 22(4): 559-577.

Woodworth, M., Ren, X., Rodenbiker, J., Santi, E., Tan, Y., Zhang, L., and Zhou, Y. (2022). Researching China During the COVID-19 Pandemic. in Stanley Brunn (Ed.) COVID-19 and Emerging World of ad-hoc Geographies. Springer Publishing,


Rodenbiker, J. (2021). Making Ecology Developmental: China’s Environmental Sciences and Green Modernization in Global ContextAnnals of the American Association of Geographers, 111(7). 1931-1948.

Liu, R., Jiang, J., Yu, C., Rodenbiker, J., & Jiang, Y. (2021). The Endowment Effect Accompanying Villagers' Withdrawal from Rural Homesteads: Field Evidence From Chengdu. China. Land Use Policy101, 105107.

Rodenbiker, J. (2020). Urban Ecological Enclosures: Conservation Planning, Peri-urban Displacement, and Local State FormationInternational Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 44(4), 691-710.

Rodenbiker, J. (2020). Sustainability as Environmental Justice: Uneven Inclusion into China's Ecological Cities. in Shades of Green: Notes on Eco-Civilisation. (Made in China Notebooks 1) edited by Luigi Tomba and Olivier Krischer, Canberra: Australia National University Press.

Rodenbiker, J. (2020). China's Global Reach: Urban Social Lives of the More-than-Human. Society and Space, (4) 8.

Rodenbiker, J. (2019). Uneven Incorporation: Volumetric Transitions in Peri-urban China's Conservation Zones. Geoforum104, 234-243.

Rodenbiker, J. (2017). Superscribing Sustainability: The Production of China’s Urban Waterscapes. UPLanD-Journal of Urban Planning, Landscape & Environmental Design2(3), 71-86.