COVID-19 Response

For information about fall semester instruction and campus operations, please visit

During this time, please contact us at

UW-Madison rural sociologist Fred Buttel dead at 56

Frederick H. Buttel, professor of rural sociology and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, died of cancer Jan. 14 at his home in Madison. He was 56 years old.

Buttel was born on a dairy farm in Freeport, Ill. He earned bachelor”s, master”s and doctoral degrees from the UW-Madison, and also earned a master”s degree from Yale University. He joined the faculty of the Department of Rural Sociology at the UW-Madison in 1992 after 14 years as a professor of rural sociology and science and technology studies at Cornell University.

Buttel was named William H. Sewell Professor of Rural Sociology at the UW-Madison, and was co-director of the Program on Agricultural Technology Studies at the UW-Madison”s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. He was an affiliated professor in the Development Studies Program, a senior fellow at the Center on World Affairs and the Global Economy, and a member of the executive committee of the Center for Science and Technology Studies.

Buttel taught Introduction to Rural Sociology and Development; Agriculture, Technology, and Society; Environment, Energy, and Development; and a seminar in Environmental Sociology.

Buttel”s research interests included the sociology of agriculture, environmental sociology, technological change in agriculture, and national and global activism relating to environmental and agricultural policy. He authored more than 215 articles and book chapters, along with 150 reviews and technical publications.

He was co-editor of Society and Natural Resources, the journal of the International Association for Society and Natural Resources; and editor of Research in Rural Sociology and Development, a research annual sponsored by the International Rural Sociology Association, the Rural Sociological Society, and the European Society for Rural Sociology.

Buttel was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1987. He was past president of the Rural Sociological Society, past president of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society, past president of the Environment and Society Research Committee of the International Sociological Association, and former chair of the Section on Environment and Technology of the American Sociological Association. His efforts in teaching, research and outreach earned him the Hilldale Faculty Award from the UW-Madison and the Spitze Land Grant Faculty Award from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Buttel is survived by his wife, Pamela Clinkenbeard of Madison; daughter Allison Buttel of Toronto; sister Barbara MacQueen of Seward, Ill.; nephew Rod MacQueen of Pembroke Pines, Fla.; and niece Heather MacQueen of Seward, Ill. Services were held Jan. 17 and Buttel was buried at a private ceremony Jan. 18 in Madison.