Chatham News

School of Sustainability and the Environment welcomes first faculty

By: Paul A. Kovach, Chief Communications Officer
July 14, 2011

PITTSBURGH (July 14, 2011) … Ready to expand with new academic programming, the School of Sustainability and the Environment (SSE) at Chatham University today announced the names of its new faculty. Founded in 2009, the SSE is a transdisciplinary academic institution that provides sustainable answers to today’s regional, national and global social, economic, and environmental concerns.

The faculty will take the lead in developing SSE’s new Master of Sustainability and online Certificate in Sustainable Management, both of which launch in 2012. They will engage the University’s historic 39-acre Shadyside Campus and Chatham Eastside facility, as well as the recently acquired 388-acre Eden Hall Campus in Richland Township as its living and learning laboratories, according to David M. Hassenzahl, Ph.D., the School’s founding dean.

Michael H. Finewood, Ph.D. is assistant professor of sustainability; Molly G. Mehling, Ph.D. is assistant professor of ecology and sustainability; Crystal L. Fortwangler, Ph.D. is assistant professor of sustainability and anthropology; and Allen G. Matthews, MS will be director and instructor of sustainable agriculture. Funding for the new faculty hires was provided by an anonymous donor. The four join Alice Julier, Ph.D., program director of SSE’s Master of Arts in Food Studies program, which welcomes its second cohort in fall 2011.

“I am pleased to welcome candidates of such caliber at this exciting stage in the development of the School,” Dr. Hassenzahl said. “The combination of their individual research and experience will be important in our work to develop tomorrow’s local, national and global leaders in sustainability.”

“In addition, we received hundreds of applications from around the world for these positions, so the interest for Chatham’s sustainability initiatives is attracting attention.”

Michael Finewood, Ph.D. is assistant professor of sustainability and joins Chatham from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia where he was visiting instructor, Department of Political Science and Geography. Describing himself as a human geographer and political ecologist with an explicit focus on critical geographies and justice, Dr. Finewood has instructed courses in various areas including Environmental Geography, Economic Geography and Map Use and Analysis. Recent presentations include Redeveloping Development: Considering Justice Through Discourses of Sustainable Development, Planning and Environmental Health Science, given at the 2010 Association of American Geographers annual meeting.

He holds a bachelor of arts in anthropology from North Carolina State University and a master of arts in cultural anthropology and Ph.D. in human geography from the University of South Carolina.

Crystal Fortwangler, Ph.D. is assistant professor of sustainability and environmental anthropology and was a Mellon post-doctoral scholar at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. as well as a visiting assistant professor at Oberlin College in Ohio. Dr. Fortwangler’s field research has included environmental protection and social justice and she is currently working on a multi-year project in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands that explores protected areas, human-land-livestock relations in the islands, and the ecological and socio-cultural changes resulting from the introduction of the green iguana. She has written several articles regarding her research as well as other subjects, including book chapters on social justice and ecotourism.

She earned a bachelor of arts in political science from the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown, a master of arts in international relations from the University of Chicago, and a master of arts in anthropology and a Ph.D. in anthropology and natural resources & environment from the University of Michigan.

Allen Matthews, MS is director and instructor of sustainable agriculture. Mr. Matthews returns to Pittsburgh after having served as enterprise coordinator/senior outreach research specialist for the Center for Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Vermont. A native of Washington, Pa., Mr. Matthews is a sixth-generation farmer operating Matthews Family Farm LLC, a 143-acre vegetable and greenhouse farm. He developed the first farmer-initiated research grant for the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program and has organically certified several farms. Prior to his years at the University of Vermont, he served as the regional coordinator for the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture’s Community FARM Initiative, where he established the Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance, which now counts over 30 farm members.

Mr. Matthews earned a bachelor of science in liberal arts from Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind.; and a master of science in community and organizational development from the University of Louisville.

Molly Mehling, Ph.D. is assistant professor of ecology and sustainability and most recently a visiting faculty member at Miami University of Ohio. Dr. Mehling is a science and sustainability photojournalist who founded – a collaborative endeavor to fulfill the needs of the science-photography community. She is a freshwater ecologist whose research interests include sustainability science, global water resources, community ecology, and women’s and children’s environmental health. As a 2011 Research Ambassador Fellow, Dr. Mehling merged science and photography to teach preschoolers about aquatic biota. She also consulted with childcare providers to discuss methods for outreach and engagement for ecology and toxicology for care providers and parents of young children. She holds a bachelor of science in environmental biology from Mount Union College (now University of Mount Union) and a master of environmental science and completed her Ph.D. in zoology at Miami University in 2011.

About Chatham University
Chatham University prepares students from around the world to help develop solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. Consistently ranked among the top master’s level institutions in the Northeast by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review, Chatham University is also ranked in the top five percent of graduate-intensive institutions nationally and experienced the fastest-growing enrollment in the Pittsburgh region over the past decade. Founded in 1869, Chatham University includes the Shadyside Campus, with the historic 39-acre Woodland Road arboretum and Chatham Eastside facility; and the 388-acre Eden Hall Campus north of Pittsburgh. For more information call 800-837-1290 or visit