Nicholas L. Padilla

Photo of Nicholas L. Padilla
Nicholas L. Padilla
Pronouns: he/him/his
Assistant Professor
3521 Wood Hall, Mail Stop 5424
Mailing address: 
Department of Geography, Environment, and Tourism
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5424 USA
  • Ph.D. Geography, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2017
  • M.S. Geography, Texas State University-San Marcos, 2009
  • B.A. Political Science and Spanish, St. Norbert College, 2006
Teaching interests: 
  • Latin America
  • Human geography
  • Political ecology
Research interests: 
  • Indigenous peoples and decolonial thinking/praxis
  • Political ecology
  • Political economy


Dr. Padilla is a broadly-trained critical human geographer who researches at the intersections of political ecology, political economy, and indigenous peoples in Latin America. In Colombia, his research explores the politics and spatialities of indigenous and peasant social movements, education, and economic activism through ethnographic fieldwork. His previous research examined the spaces of decolonial thinking and praxis among indigenous and rural actors in Cauca, Colombia, who have coalesced in order to further their ‘own’ educational model, re-introduce social relations in rural economies, and account for and incorporate nature in economic practices.


  • Geography 2050: Human Geography
  • Geography 2440: Economic Geography
  • Geography 3800: North American Borders 
  • Geography 3830: Europe
  • Geography 3880: Latin America
  • Geography 6620: History & Philosophy of Geography


Dr. Padilla's works with graduate students whose research spans geography, political ecology, qualitative methods, and social theory. 

  • Economic - development strategies, ecotoutism and agritourism, and diverse economies
  • Environmental - parks and agritourism, ecofeminism, invasive species, and environmental justice
  • Political geography - exclusion, social movements, positionality, and representation
  • Qualitative and geographic methods - affect, surveys, interviews, mental mapping/qualitative mapping, ethnographic methods, participant observation, and participatory action research
  • Social theory - decolonial/decoloniality and Southern thinking