Professor Jen Gaddis

Jennifer Gaddis

Assistant Professor
4251 Nancy Nicholas Hall
Office Hours
Thursdays 3-5 pm

The personal is political.

I joined the Department of Civil Society and Community Studies in August 2014 after earning a Ph.D. from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. With a B.S. in Materials Science & Engineering and teaching experience in Gender Studies, Environmental Studies, and Political Science, my background reflects the interdisciplinary ethic of SoHE.

My research uses critical feminist and ecological lenses to examine the social, political, and economic organization of everyday life. Using ethnographic, archival, and participatory research methods, my scholarship moves beyond critique to envision and advocate for a politics of the possible. In so doing, I strive to identify concrete strategies for transitioning to just and sustainable systems of production and consumption. My current book project, “The Labor of Lunch: A New Economics of Care in American Public School,” focuses on the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). In the book, I argue that we must rethink and subsequently revalue the labor of lunch if the NSLP is to reach its full potential as a force for public good. My research on the NSLP has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation, the Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment, the Meta Schroeder Beckner Endowment Grant, and the Institute for Research in the Humanities. I am also the principal investigator of a research project in South Madison—funded by US Department of Agriculture and the Center for Child and Family Well-being—that examines issues of food provisioning and food justice among an inter-generational group of parents, children, and youth.

At the UW-Madison, I teach courses in three topical areas: community and social change, strategic planning, and critical food studies. I am a faculty affiliate of the Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies, the Center for Child and Family Well-being, and the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. I also serve as an advisory board member to the Haven’s Center for Social Justice.


Critical food studies

Social provisioning

Ecology and care

Low-wage labor

Care work

Alternative economies


  • Charles Z. Levkoe, Nathan Mclintock, Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern, Amy K. Coplen, Jennifer Gaddis, Joann Lo, Felipe Tendick-Matesanz, and Anelyse Weiler. “Forging Links Between Food Chain Labor Activists and Academics.” Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development 6.2 (2016): 1-14.
  • Brian Christens, Victoria Faust, Jennifer Gaddis, Paula Tran Inzeo, Carolina S. Sarmiento, & Shannon M. Sparks, “Action Research.” pp. 243-252 in Jason, L. A., & Glenwick, D. (Eds.) Handbook of methodological approaches to community-based research: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods. (2016) New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Gaddis, J. “Mobilizing to Re-value and Re-skill Foodservice Labor in U.S. School Lunchrooms: A Pathway to Community-level Food Sovereignty?” Radical Teacher 98 (2014): 15-21.

CSCS 125: Community and Social Change

CSCS 345: Strategic Planning for Nonprofit Organizations

CSCS 375: Human Ecology of Food and Sustainability