Daniel Press named executive director of CASFS

Daniel Press

Environmental Studies professor Daniel Press is the new executive director of the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. (Photo by Jennifer McNulty)

Environmental studies professor Daniel Press has been named executive director of the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Dean of Social Sciences Sheldon Kamieniecki announced Press's appointment Monday, effective July 1, 2012.

Press, an expert in U.S. environmental politics and policy, joined UCSC's environmental studies department in 1992. He held the Pepper-Giberson chair in environmental studies between 1996 and 2001, and currently holds the Olga T. Griswold chair in environmental studies. He served as environmental studies department chair for six years.

"I am pleased and proud to be joining CASFS, one of the jewels in the UC Santa Cruz crown," Press said. "The Center transforms many lives daily, from grade school children in Life Lab to undergraduates seeking experiential education to graduate students doing innovative research and apprentices eager to adopt the most sustainable agronomic and horticultural practices on their farms."

Press's research interests also include social capital and democratic theory, industrial ecology, land and species conservation, and regionalism. He is the author of Democratic Dilemmas in the Age of Ecology: Trees and Toxics in the American West  (Duke University Press, 1994), and Saving Open Space: The Politics of Local Preservation in California (UC Press, 2002). He is working on a third book about American environmental regulation over the last 40 years.

Press succeeds professor Patricia Allen who has stepped down as CASFS director to concentrate on research and teaching. She has been hired at Marylhurst University, near Portland, Ore., to chair a new graduate program in Food Systems and Society. In 28 years at UCSC, Allen developed a renowned research program on social equity issues in sustainable food systems. Allen said she plans to complete her current research projects at UCSC.

CASFS is a research, education, and public service program at UC Santa Cruz dedicated to increasing ecological sustainability and social justice in the food and agriculture
system. The center operates the three-acre Alan Chadwick Garden and 25-acre farm.

Both sites are managed using organic production methods and serve as research, teaching, and training facilities for students, staff, and faculty. CASFS oversees the pioneering apprenticeship in ecological horticulture that has garnered international acclaim. 

"The center takes on the big issues facing agriculture and food systems today," Press said. "How can growing our food not just sustain our farms and bodies, but even improve them? How can modern agriculture be ecologically sound and socially just? Whom can we recruit into the next generation of farmers and how can they be prepared to manage our soils, waters, and genetic resources sustainably?

"I am very pleased to join a center that answers these questions through first-rate research and experiential education."

Press received his B.S. in fermentation science from UC Davis and his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from Claremont Graduate University.