Department ofHistory

Bryan McDonald

Bryan McDonald

Director of Interdisciplinary Programs, The College of the Liberal Arts
Associate Professor, Department of History

402 Weaver Building

Phone: (814) 863-8949

Curriculum Vitae:


PhD, Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine, 2008
MA, Political Science, Virginia Tech, 1999
BA, English, in honors (summa cum laude), Virginia Tech, 1997
Bryan McDonald Headshot



Bryan McDonald, Ph.D., is the Director of Interdisciplinary Programs in the College of the Liberal Arts and an Associate Professor in the Department of History at The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. McDonald is a historian of modern America with research and teaching interests in food, environment, security, and resilience. He is currently working on a book project that explores the history of food as a security issue in modern America. His most recent book, Food Power: The Rise and Fall of the Postwar American Food System(Oxford University Press, 2017), explores how food was deployed in the first decades of the Cold War to promote American national security and national interests. He is also the author of Food Security (Polity Press, 2010), which investigates how globalization and global change have reshaped food systems in ways that have significant impacts on the national security of states and the human security of communities and individuals. Dr. McDonald is the co-editor of two books that examine human security problems: Global Environmental Change and Human Security (MIT Press, 2009) and Landmines and Human Security: International Politics and War’s Hidden Legacy (SUNY Press, 2004). He has published more than 25 articles, book chapters, and reviews as well as a number of commentaries and policy documents.

Selected Publications:

“Learning from Failure: Postwar Efforts to Establish a World Food Reserve.” Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 8, no. 4 (2018): 1-15. (Recipient of International Award for Excellence for Volume 8 of Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal.)

Food Power: The Rise and Fall of the Postwar American Food System. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.

“Food as a Key Resource for Security and Stability: Implications of Changes in the Global Food System 1950-2000.” Journal of Law and International Affairs 3, no. 2 (2015): 42-55.

“Ensuring Food Security: Meeting Challenges from Malnutrition, Food Safety and Global Environmental Change.” In Environmental Security: Approaches and Issues, edited by Rita Floyd and Richard Matthew, 234-247. London: Routledge, 2013.

Food Security. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010.

Co-editor with Richard A. Matthew, Jon Barnett, and Karen L. O’Brien. Global Environmental Change and Human Security. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2009.

Co-editor with Richard A. Matthew and Kenneth R. Rutherford. Landmines and Human Security: International Politics and War’s Hidden Legacy. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2004; paperback, 2006.

Awards and Service:

Co-chair, The College of the Liberal Arts Sustainability Council, Penn State, 2020-present

Member, Stewarding Our Planet’s Resources Steering Committee, Penn State, 2020-present

Member, Drafting Subcommittee, Ad Hoc Committee on Online Teaching, American Historical Association, 2020-present

Faculty Fellow, Center for Security Research and Education, Penn State, 2019-2020

Sherwin Early Career Professor in the Rock Ethics Institute, Penn State University, 2016-2018

Faculty Excellence in Sustainability Award, College of the Liberal Arts, Penn State, 2017

Recent Courses:

HIST 021 – American Civilization Since 1877

HIST 110 – Introduction to Global Environmental History

HIST 111 –  Introduction to U.S. Food History (also taught as honors)

HIST 302 – Undergraduate Seminar (also taught as honors)

HIST 453 – American Environmental History (residential and online)

HIST 553 – Graduate Research Seminar in American Environmental History


Areas of Specialization: