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College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences

Faculty and Staff Profile

Kenneth Robinson

Associate Professor
Agribusiness Extension Specialist

Office: 132 Brackett

Phone: (864) 656-1449

Fax: (864) 656-1252

Vita: View

Personal Website:

Educational Background

Ph.D. Development Sociology
Cornell University

MPA Public Policy
University of Texas - Austin

B.S. Agricultural Economics & Rural Sociology
Clemson University

Courses Taught

Family and Community Studies (FCS) 830
Rural Sociology (RS) 301
Applied Economics (AP EC) 490/899
Applied Economics (AP EC) 899
Rural Sociology (RS/SOC) 401/601
Rural Sociology (RS/SOC) 459/659
Community and Rural Development (CRD) 492
Community and Rural Development (CRD) 491


Dr. Kenneth L. Robinson is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Clemson University, his alma mater. He is also an agribusiness extension specialist with the Sandhill Research and Education Center in Columbia, SC. His research and outreach interests include rural sociology, entrepreneurship, health disparities, and sustainable development. He teaches courses in Community Sociology, Human Ecology, Social Impact Analysis, and African-American Rural Life. Prior to returning to Clemson in 2005, Dr. Robinson was a post-doctoral research associate at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, where he received his Ph.D. in Development Sociology. While at Cornell, he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to examine the emergence of small-scale, commercial agriculture in the economically disadvantaged, former homeland areas of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Dr. Robinson is also a graduate of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a student of the late Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. Upon graduating from UT-Austin, Kenneth Robinson relocated to Washington, DC, where he served as a Presidential Management Intern with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and later on Capitol Hill as a Housing and Community Development Specialist in the Texas Governor’s Office of State-Federal Relations. Dr. Robinson is active locally as a member of the City of Clemson’s Strategic Plan Implementation Committee, Clemson Area League of Women Voters, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and serves as co-president of the Cornell Alumni Association Blue Ridge Mountains. He is married to Lisa Harris, formerly of Ithaca, NY, and they reside in Clemson.

Research Interests

“South Carolina Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network,” U. S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Co-Principal Investigator, $365,691.00 (2020 – 2023). 

“South Carolina Aquaculture Futures - Evaluating socioeconomic potentials for rural communities and limitations for entrepreneurs,” U.S. Department of Agriculture - Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), Co-Principal Investigator, $149,630 (2019-22).

“Community Development and Health Disparities Field Study in South Africa,” Clemson University Office of Global Engagement, Internationalization Seed Fund Proposal, Principal Investigator, $6,000 (2013-2014).

 “Using Local Food Banks to Improve Sustainability of Small and Limited Resource Farms,” U.S. Department of Agriculture - Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), Principal Investigator, $437,000 (2011-12). 

"Locally Grown Foods: Entrepreneurial Narratives of Innovative Agricultural Business in South Carolina," Clemson University Research Grant Committee Project Completion Grant, Principal Investigator, $3,000 (2011). 

“Bridging Specialty Crop Producers and Institutional Food Purchasers:  Distilling a Research and Extension Agenda in Support of Local Food Systems in the Southeast, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Co-Investigator, $44,971 (2009). 

“Engaged Department Initiative,” Clemson University Service Alliance, Co-Principal Investigator, $10,000 (2008). 

Upper Savannah Council of Governments, Economic and Workforce Development Cluster Study; Co-Investigator, $89,000 (2008). 

 “Creative Inquiry research course on entrepreneurship and community economic development,” Clemson University Office of the Provost, Principal Investigator, $2500/semester (2007-12). 

Service- Learning Course Development Grant, Clemson University Service Alliance, Principal Investigator, $1,000 (2007). 

Citizens and Scholars mini-grant, Clemson University Service Alliance, Principal Investigator, $4,988 (2007).

Entrepreneurship and Community Economic Development in South Carolina, Hatch Project Number SC-1700313, Principal Investigator (2006-11). 

Co-Directing and Evaluating the Growing Foods Locally Initiative, USDA Community Food Project Grant, Co-Investigator, $37,387, ($4,000), (2005-08).

EDA University Center for Clemson University, U.S. Department of Commerce, Co-Investigator, $480,000 ($45,000), (2006-09).

Learning lessons and moving forward to relative invulnerability: disaster resilience and preparedness," Hatch Project Number SC-1700339, Co-Investigator (2006-08).

Research Publications

Robinson, K. L., Carter, A. and Harvey, M., editors. Race in Rural America. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Press (Forthcoming).

Tonjuk, Joseph and Kenneth L. Robinson, “Leadership Development and Service Learning: A Case Study Of The Human Ecology Social Impact Assessment,” Journal of Experiential Education (In preparation) 

Lori A. Dickes and Kenneth L. Robinson Chapter 30 Rural Entrepreneurship in Rural America in a Globalizing World, edited by Conner Bailey, Leif Jensen and Elizabeth Ransom Morganton, 2015, West Virgina:  West Virginia University Press.  

Tihanyi, Krisztina and Kenneth L. Robinson.  Chapter 1 Setting the Scene in Case Studies of South Africa's Emerging Farmers and Agribusinesses, edited by Edward Mabaya, Krisztina Tihanyi, Mohammed Karaan, and Johan van Rooyen.  Stellenbosch, South Africa:  SunMedia.  October 2011. 

Robinson, Kenneth L., et al.  The Arkansas Delta Produce Marketing Association: Rural Entrepreneurship in the U.S. Delta Region.  Chapter 11 in The Handbook of Research on Entrepreneurship in Agriculture and Rural Development, edited by Gry Alsos, Sara Carter, Elisabet Ljunggren, and Friederike Welter.  (2011), Northampton, MA:  Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc. 

Dickes, Lori and Kenneth L. Robinson, An Institutional Perspective on Rural Entrepreneurship, American Journal of  Entrepreneurship, (In press).

Partnerships as a Tool to Reduce Regional Labor Gaps:  A South Carolina Regional Case Study, Journal of the Community Development Society  2012.

Slocum, Sue, Kenneth L. Robinson, and Kenneth F. Backman, Tourism Pathways to Prosperity: Perspectives on the informal economy in Tanzania,Tourism Analysis: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. 16, No. 1/2 (2011).

Dickes, Lori A. and Kenneth L. Robinson, Enhancing Cluster Effects to Reduce Regional Labor-Supply Gaps: An Example in South Carolina, Journal of Extension (October 2010).

Young, Frank W. and Kenneth L. Robinson, “An Ecological Regional Analysis of South Carolina, Social Indicators Research (August 2010).

Barkley, David L., Daniel C. Eades, Lori A. Dickes, Mark S. Henry, David W. Hughes, and Kenneth L. Robinson, Workforce Occupations and Skills Projections:  Upper Savannah Council of Governments Region 2000-2016 Executive Summary, EDA University Center for Economic Development and Clemson Institute for Economic and Community Development, Clemson University, UCED Research Report 06-2008-01, (June 2008).

Honors and Awards

Land-Grant Representative-Elect, Rural Sociological Society Executive Council, 2021-
Nominee, Rowland P. Alston, Sr., ’42 Award for Excellence in Public Relations, College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences, 2019
Nominee, Vice President. Rural Sociological Society, 2018
Distinguished Service Award, Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management (PRTM) Department, 2018
Presidential Award, Southern Rural Sociological Association, 2016
Southern Region Excellence in Community Development Work – Team Award, Turning the Tide on Poverty, National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP), NACDEP Conference, 2011
Nominee, Rural Sociological Society, Nominations Committee, 2011
Nominee, SC Commission on Higher Education Service Learning Award, 2009
“Preparing Future Faculty” Professional Development Certificate, Rural Sociological Society, August 2009
Service Alliance Fellow, Clemson University, 2008-2010
Certification in Social Impact Assessment, International Association for Impact Assessment, June 2008


Linking Sustainable Agriculture and Community Development: The Lowcountry Food Bank’s Use of Locally Grown Foods

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