Picture of Michael E. Gertler

Michael E. Gertler B.E.S., M.Sc., Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Tenured

Faculty Member in Sociology

Arts 1017

Research Area(s)

  • sociology of agriculture and food
  • organizational innovations supporting sustainable rural development
  • agricultural restructuring and diversification
  • community and co-operative pastures
  • knowledge politics in co-operatives
  • labour relations and co-operatives
  • organic farming
  • policies and planning for regional development

About me

My early sociological observations were made in rural Pennsylvania, in Cambridge (UK), going to school in Montreal, and on family farms in Ontario. I completed a Bachelor of Environmental Studies (Hon. Urban and Regional Planning) at the University of Waterloo. After working at the Centre for the Study of Natural Systems, Washington University, St. Louis, I completed an MSc in Renewable Resources at McGill. My thesis on farming co-operatives in Saskatchewan led me to rural sociology and to a PhD in Development Sociology at Cornell.

As Associate Professor in Sociology, Fellow in Community and Co-operative Development at the Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, and Associate Member in the School of Environment and Sustainability, I continue an interdisciplinary journey. I serve on the committee overseeing Regional and Urban Planning in the College of Arts and Science and am part of the working group promoting Communities and Sustainability as a Signature Area of Research at the U of S. I am privileged to teach rural, community, and environmental sociology, the sociology of agriculture and food, and the sociology of development.

Social, organizational, and institutional innovations supporting sustainable development have been my focus—in Canada, the USA, Costa Rica, Mongolia, and the Caribbean. My recent research has been on organic farming, grazing co-ops, the privatization of regional transportation and community pastures, Crown Lands, and labour and knowledge politics in co-ops. I serve on the boards of Public Pastures–Public Interest and the National Farmers Union (I am partner in a small organic farm). I enjoy the fellowship of the Rural Sociological Society and the Canadian Association for Studies in Co-operation. Working with these organizations and with faculty and students has been my continuing education.


Co-operatives and Common Studies Rural Sociology Sociology of Agriculture

Gertler, M., J. Jaffe, and M.A. Beckie. 2018. Duelling Discourses of Sustainability: Neo-Conventional and Organic Farming on the Canadian Prairies. In D. Constance, J. Konefal, and M. Hatanaka (eds), Contested Sustainability Discourses in the Agrifood System. New York and London: Routledge/Earthscan, pp. 162-186.

Jaffe, J. and M. Gertler. Rural Sociology. 2017. In Kathleen Odell Korgen (ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Sociology. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 445-454.

Gertler, M. 2015. Cooperatives. In Ken Albala (ed), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Food Studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication, pp. 313-317.

Viveros-Guzmán, A., and M. Gertler, 2015. Latino Farmworkers in Saskatchewan: Language Barriers and Health and Safety. Journal of Agromedicine, 20(3): 341-348.

Gertler, M. 2013. “Co-operating to Build a Better West: A Co-operative Success.” Pp. xii-xiii in Co-operating to Build a Better West: Proceedings of a Conference Celebrating the 2012 United Nations International Year of Co-operatives Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 1–3 November 2012, a report prepared by Sugandhi del Canto and Nora Russell. Saskatoon: Centre for the Study of Co-operatives.

Heit, J. and M. Gertler. 2009. Co-operative Marketing Options for Organic Agriculture. Saskatoon: Centre for the Study of Co-operatives.

Jaffe, J. and M. Gertler. 2008. Sustainable Development in the New Economy: Risk, Vulnerability and Eco-Social Justice. Currents: New Scholarship in the Human Services 7 (2): 18pp. Published online https://journalhosting.ucalgary.ca/index.php/currents/article/view/15890/12587

Gertler, M. 2007. Production Co-operatives and Co-operative Production: Legacy and Promise. Pp. 107-126 in The Prairie Agrarian Movement Revisited. M. Knuttila and R. Stirling (eds). Regina: Canadian Plains Research Centre, University of Regina.

Jaffe, J. and M. Gertler. 2006. Victual Vicissitudes: Consumer Deskilling and the (Gendered) Transformation of Food Systems. Agriculture and Human Values 23(2): 143-162

Allan, N. and M. Gertler. 2006. Remaking the Links: Fair Trade for Local and Global Community Development. Saskatoon: Community-University Institute for Social Research, University of Saskatchewan, 29 pp.

Sanderson, K., M. Gertler, D. Martz, and R. Mahabir. 2005. Farmers’ Markets in North America: A Literature Review. Saskatoon: Community-University Institute for Social Research, University of Saskatchewan, 27 pp.

Gertler, M. 2004. Synergy and Strategic Advantage: Cooperatives and Sustainable Development. Journal of Cooperatives 18: 32-46.

Gertler, M. 2004. Co-operative Membership as a Complex and Dynamic Social Process. Pp.113-131 in Co-operative Membership and Globalization: New Directions in Research and Practice. B. Fairbairn and N. Russell (eds.). Saskatoon: Centre for the Study of Co-operatives.

Gertler, M., J. Jaffe, and L. Swystun. 2004. The Old Same Place? Gender Relations on Co-operative and Conventional Farms in Saskatchewan. Prairie Forum 29 (2): 253-277.

Gertler, M. 2003. Innovation, Durable Communities, and Long-Haul Economies. Pp. 55-65 in Farm Communities at the Crossroads: Challenge and Resistance. H. Diaz, J. Jaffe, and R. Stirling (eds.). Regina: Canadian Plains Research Centre.

Gertler, M., J. Jaffe, and L. Swystun. 2002. Beyond Beef and Barley: Organizational Innovation and Social Factors in Farm Diversification and Sustainability. Research Report 02.01. Saskatoon: Centre for the Study of Co-operatives.

Gertler, M. 2001. Rural Co-operatives and Sustainable Development. Saskatoon: Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, University of Saskatchewan. 30pp.

Gertler, M. 1999. Sustainable Communities and Sustainable Agriculture on the Prairies. Pp. 121-139 In John Pierce and Ann Dale (eds.), Communities, Development, and Sustainability across Canada.  Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Gertler, M. 1999. Indian Urban Reserves and Community Development: Some Social Issues. Pp. 263-279 in F. Laurie Barron and Joseph Garcea (eds.), Urban Indian Reserves: Forging New Social Relationships in Saskatchewan. Saskatoon: Purich Publishing.

Ketilson, L.H., M. Gertler, M. Fulton, R. Dobson, L. Polsom. 1998. The Social and Economic Importance of Co-operatives in Saskatchewan, Report Prepared for Saskatchewan Department of Economic and Co-operative Development, 228 pp.

Gertler, M.1998. Biotechnology and Social Issues in Rural Agricultural Communities: Identifying the Issues. Pp.137-145 in Ralph W.H. Hardy, Jane B. Segelken, and Monica Voionmaa (eds.), Resource Management in Challenged Environments, NABC Report 9.  Ithaca, NY: National Agricultural Biotechnology Council.

Gertler, M. 1996. Organizational, Institutional, and Social Factors in Agricultural Diversification: Observations from the Canadian Plains.” Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 44: 435-448.

Gertler, M. 1994. Rural Communities and the Challenge of Sustainability. Pp. 69-78 in J. Bryden (ed.), Towards Sustainable Rural Communities: The Guelph Seminar Series.  Guelph: University School of Rural Planning and Development, University of Guelph.

Gertler, M. 1992. The Social Economy of Agricultural Sustainability. Pp. 173-188 in D.A. Hay and G.S. Basran (eds.), Rural Sociology in Canada.  Toronto: Oxford University Press

Gertler, M. 1991. The Institutionalization of Grower-Processor Relations in the Vegetable Industries of Ontario and New York. Pp. 232-255 in W.H. Friedland, L. Busch, F.H. Buttel and A.P. Rudy (eds.), Towards a New Political Economy of Agriculture.  Boulder:  Westview Press.

Teaching & Supervision

Current undergraduate and graduate courses: 

SOC 202.3 Environmental Sociology

SOC 204.3 Rural Sociology and Rural Development

SOC 206.3 Sociology of Communities and Community Development

SOC 402.3 Sociology of Agriculture and Food

SOC 802.3 Advanced Seminar in the Sociology of Agriculture and Food

SOC 409.3 Sociology of Development

SOC 809.3 Advanced Seminar in the Sociology of Development


production co-operatives sociology of agriculture sustainable rural development

Education & Training

B.E.S., Waterloo, Urban and Regional Planning

M.Sc., McGill, Renewable Resources

Ph.D., Cornell, Development Sociology