Chelsea Wentworth

Chelsea Wentworth

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Research Assistant Professor
Department of Community Sustainability



Last updated March 2022

Dr. Chelsea Wentworth is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Sustainability, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Anthropology, core and GJEC faculty for the Center for Gender in a Global Context (GenCen), and affiliated faculty with the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR) at Michigan State University. Dr. Wentworth’s research examines hunger and food security, sustainable food systems, and the social determinants that impact health outcomes for children and their families. Working both domestically and abroad, Dr. Wentworth’s research is grounded in feminist community-engagement for public policy change, and in an examination of the factors that impact health equity among families. Employing innovative mixed-methods approaches at the intersection of integrated social science, public health policy, and nutritional syndemics theory, Dr. Wentworth’s research has applications in South Pacific, developing world, and in US contexts.

Currently, she is working on several projects. Her long-term ethnographic research takes place in the South Pacific in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Since 2009, Dr. Wentworth’s work has focused on issues of infant and young child feeding practice, urban gardening and land use change, disaster response, and childhood malnutrition in collaboration with the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, the Vanuatu Ministries of Health and Agriculture. She also helps co-lead the Flint Leverage Points Project, a community-research partnership with the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. This research aims to map the Flint food system to identify leverage points to improve food security and support evidence-based public policy. In particular, Dr. Wentworth’s research examines how households navigate the Flint food system, barriers to access, and how disruptions like the Flint Water Crisis and COVID-19 impact household food security. Additionally, Dr. Wentworth works on teams studying Indigenous foodways with partners at the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, and on a project examining how vendors and consumers value farmers markets, particularly in the wake of COVID-19. Until events of August 2021, Dr. Wentworth also supported the work of the GRAIN Research and Innovation project to support gender mapping work with partners at MSU and in Afghanistan, research that has been halted by conflict in the region.

Emphasis on feminist community-engaged research praxis and understanding food access through a systems-based approach run through Dr. Wentworth’s international and US based research. These projects have broader applications in the fields of gender, health, and public policy as governments and NGOs work to improve quality of life for community members. Dr. Wentworth’s work has been funded by the US Fulbright Program, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research within the USDA, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, and the Hewlett Foundation. Her publications appear in a variety of interdisciplinary outlets including: Social Politics, Ecology and Society, Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy, International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Anthropological Forum, Medical Anthropology, The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, Food and Foodways, and in several community-engaged outreach documents.

Dr. Wentworth received her Ph.D. in Anthropology with a dissertation titled “Feasting and Food Security: Negotiating infant and child feeding in urban and peri-urban Vanuatu” from the University of Pittsburgh where she also earned a Master of Public Health, and a certificate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. Prior to joining MSU, she served as an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at High Point University, and as a qualitative research consultant for the Allegheny County Department of Human Services.


Ph.D. Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, 2014
MPH Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, 2014
B.S. Environmental Studies and Applications, Michigan State University, 2007
B.A. English, Michigan State University, 2007

Selected Publications

2021 Wentworth, Chelsea and Dessie Clark. Language, Publication, and the Advancement of Feminist Praxis. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society. 

2021 Belisle-Toler, Rachael, Jennifer Hodbod, and Chelsea Wentworth. A Mixed Methods Approach to Exploring Values that Inform Desirable Food System Futures. Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy. 

2019 Wentworth, Chelsea. Unhealthy Aid: Food security programming and disaster responses to Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu. Anthropological Forum special issue on Disasters in the Pacific. Edited by Christopher Ballard, Siobhan McDonnell, Maëlle Calandra. DOI Permalink: 

2017 Wentworth, Chelsea. Hidden Circuits of Communal Childrearing: Nutritional Challenges Resulting from the Circulation of Children in Vanuatu. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology. Judith Schachter and Chelsea Wentworth eds. for special issue 18(4): 323-338. DOI Permalink:

2017 Schachter, Judith and Chelsea Wentworth. The Dynamics of Mobility: New Perspectives on Child Circulation in the Pacific. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology. Judith Schachter and Chelsea Wentworth eds. for special issue 18(4):289-304. DOI Permalink:

2017 Wentworth, Chelsea. Good Food, Bad Food, and White Rice: Understanding Child Feeding Using Visual-Narrative Elicitation. Medical Anthropology, 36(6): 602-614. DOI Permalink:

2016 Wentworth, Chelsea. Public Eating, Private Pain: Children, Feasting, and Food Security in Vanuatu. Food and Foodways, 24(3-4):1-17. DOI Permalink:

2016 Wentworth, Chelsea. Throwing the Mother out with the Bathwater: Vanuatu’s Breastfeeding Initiative in Theory and Practice. In Missing the Mark? Women and the Millennium Development Goals. Naomi M. McPherson ed. Demeter Press. Pp 234-263.