Browse Experts

Areas of Expertise

Related Links

Chris Laingen

Assistant Professor, Geography

My research interests are at the intersection of how human and natural systems affect the American rural and agricultural landscape.  Much of my work has focused upon the changing agricultural land use of the northwestern Corn Belt, specifically in the Dakotas, along with how those LULC changes affect environmental goods and services.  More broadly, I am interested in defining - in simple terms - what some of the coupled human and natural socio-economic drivers are that have caused, are causing, and will continue to cause change on the rural landscape.  These include shifts in climate, technology, trade, and economics.

My scholarship and teaching are inseparable.  In my opinion, it is not possible to be a scholar without wanting to teach, and teaching that is not based on scholarship often has a highly scripted, hand-me-down appearance.  My goal is to stress quality over quantity.  My job is not to make sure I get through each page of a 23-chapter textbook.  My job is to take the most important ideas and make sure students are able to think critically about each one, and to help students to think for themselves, rather than trying to convince them of the preferability of one particular position or another.  Environmental topics often have many complex, interconnected themes, where a single answer may not satisfy the problem.  Often, questions lead to more questions instead of answers, and it is important to assure students that an acceptable answer might be, “I’m not sure, but I will continue to ask questions.”

On campus, I am affiliated with:
Department of Geology and Geography
Center for Clean Energy, Research, and Education (CENCERE)
GIScience Center

Co-host, with Cameron Craig of WEIU-TV's "Illinois' Skies"
Four episodes per year, beginning March 2014

Areas of Expertise

  • Demographics/Census
  • Environment
  • Geography


PhD, Geography - Kansas State University (2009)
MS, Geography - South Dakota State University (2003)
BS, Geography, minor in GIScience - South Dakota State University (2001)

Research Interests

Coupled Humand and Natural Systems
Rural and Agricultural Geography (Midwest/Great Plains)
Socioeconomic Drivers of LULC Change
Land Use and Upland Bird Populations
Agriculture and Sustainability
Dynamics Between Agriculture and Conservation

Contact Information

Phone: 217-581-2999