John Isom


John Isom
John Isom


Remote for Fall 20
Office Hours
11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

I am a human-environment geographer, trained to examine how environment has both constrained and enabled human well-being in a particular place or region, and how humans have affected the very environment that they – that we – depend on for our near- and long-term well-being. History matters deeply in these topics and questions, and politics, too: who has access to and control over a particular resource – and thus, by extension, who does not, and the history and consequences of this exclusion.  

Like any good geographer I care deeply about place and region, and mountains regions have long held my intellectual attention and my heart. Of all mountain regions on Earth, none has held as much as the Tibetan Plateau. Until recently my volunteer service as a public intellectual focused on science and policy issues related to environmental justice and self-determination for Tibetans and Tibet, with a specific focus on linking environmental human rights to participatory environmental governance and decision-making. I have been a member of the Tibetan Delegation to the UN’s Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the UN’s World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002, and the UN’s climate negotiations in 2009 and again in 2015. 

Before coming to Sonoma State I lived in northwest California, working with the Mattole Restoration Council on watershed restoration. I earned my M.A. at San Francisco State University in the Department of Geography and Environment, and started but did not complete the Ph.D. in Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


B.A. Liberal Studies Social Sciences, New York University, 1984

M.A. Geography and Environment, San Francisco State University, 1995