Nost, Eric

Dr. Eric Nost
Associate Professor
PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison
519 824-4120 ext. 53279

Political ecology; digital governance; environmental planning, markets, and justice; webmapping.

I research how data technologies inform environmental governance. New kinds of data-generating sensors and data-synthesizing algorithms are becoming central to everyday life and may prove transformational in policy too. A key challenge for geographers in the coming years is assessing these technologies’ promise to help society solve sustainability issues related to food security, climate change adaptation, and ecosystem services conservation. This will be done by understanding their human dimensions - their design, use, maintenance, and effects on society - alongside other governance trends such as marketization and metrification. It will involve understanding how these data systems came but also experimenting with them towards more just and equitable ends.

My work contributes to the field of political ecology and is currently supported by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant. I teach undergraduate courses in nature-society geography and mapping as well as graduate courses in research methods and in Guelph's Master of Conservation Leadership program. I serve on the coordinating committee of the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI), where we bring people together to analyze publicly available socio-environmental data and track the portrayal of climate change issues on the web.

GEOG*1220 Human Impact on the Environment
GEOG*2480 Mapping and GIS
GEOG*4480 Contemporary Geographical Thought
CONS*6030 Conservation Tools and technology
GEOG*6091 Geographical Research Methods II

For a full list of publications, see my CV here. For webmapping and other programming projects, visit my Github page.

Nost, E. and E. Colven. 2022. Earth for AI: A Political Ecology of Data-Driven Climate Initiatives. Geoforum.

Goldstein, J. and E. Nost, eds. 2022. The Nature of Data: Infrastructures, Environments, Politics. University of Nebraska Press.

Duncan, E., A. Glaros, D. Ross, & E. Nost. 2021. New but for whom? Discourses of innovation in precision agriculture. Agriculture and Human Values.

Machen, R. and E. Nost. 2021. Thinking algorithmically: The making of hegemonic knowledge in climate governance. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

Nost, E., M. Robertson, and R. Lave. 2019. Q-method and the performance of subjectivity: Reflections from a survey of US stream restoration practitioners. Geoforum 105: 23-31.

Walker, D., E. Nost, A. Lemelin, R. Lave, and L. Dillon. 2018. Practicing environmental data justice: From DataRescue to Data Together. Geo.

Moore, S., R. Roth, H. Rosenfeld, E. Nost, K. Vincent, T. Buckingham, M.R. Arefin. 2017. Undisciplining Environmental Justice Research with Visual Storytelling Geoforum.

Nost, E., H. Rosenfeld, K. Vincent, S. Moore, and R.E. Roth. 2017. HazMatMapper: An online and interactive geographic visualization tool for exploring transnational flows of hazardous waste and environmental justiceJournal of Maps 13(1): 14-23. Map . Shortlisted for Journal of Maps’s 2017 “Best Map” award.

Nost, E. 2015. Performing nature’s value: software and the making of Oregon’s ecosystem services marketsEnvironment and Planning: A 47 (12): 2573-2590.

I’m excited to hear from prospective grad students who are curious about the role data technologies play in environmental governance. Types of projects we might collaborate on include:

  • Evaluating opportunities for technologies such as AI and GIS in nature conservation and agri-environmental stewardship
  • Analyzing publicly-available climate, conservation, and environmental governance datasets

I am also looking for students to research the design of environmental governance datasets like Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory and to experiment in alternative uses of them. This research would inform ongoing policy discussions, including those around Canada's Bill C-226 and the US's Justice40 initiative, both of which seek to develop data infrastructures for advancing environmental justice. Students would have the opportunity to collaborate with the Environmental and Data Governance Initiative.

Prospective students should be interested in conducting interviews, document analysis, and/or surveys for their research, as well as working critically with data technologies themselves. I can offer training in communication skills - including mapping, data visualization, and public writing - and in the scholarly fields of political ecology, science and technology studies, and digital geographies. Former graduate students have gone on to work in academia and in the conservation and environmental NGO sectors. 

I encourage interested candidates to email me at with a brief statement of interest, an unofficial transcript, and a writing/research sample.

Graduate Students Supervised

Name Research
M.A. Farshchi, Asana
M.A. Jesmer, Hope Research interests: agrifood systems, soil nutrient management, policy support tools.
M.A. Ross, Zo Research interests: precision conservation.
M.A. Singer, Noah Research interests: Web Mapping, Data Governance, Cartography
M.A. Zokaei Ashtiani, Mahya Evaluating social and environmental justice and sense of place in energy transitions.
M.A. 2021 MacIntyre, Jillian Agroecological Farming Methodologies as Climate Change Resilience on Prince Edward Island, Canada.
M.A. 2021 O'Brien, Aidan Soil organic carbon decision-support systems: Integrating salience, credibility and legitimacy.
Ph.D. 2023 Glaros, Alex Sustainable Food Systems' Transformations, from Critique to Practice: Describing and designing food futures.