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Anna Carlson

Dr. Anna Carlson Associate Professor


Anna began working at Bemidji State University as the Assistant Sustainability Director in 2014. After four years of working in the Sustainability Office, Anna has now transitioned into full time teaching and works as a faculty member in the Center for Sustainability Studies teaching courses in Environmental Studies with a focus on policy and planning. She has her PhD in Sustainable Energy Planning from Aalborg University in Denmark where she studied wind energy development and integration. Previously, Anna spent 3 years as the Northwest Regional Coordinator for the Clean Energy Resource Teams. During that time she focused much of her efforts on increasing access to clean energy to low-income individuals, families and communities.

She currently acts as the Vice Chair for the City of Bemidji’s Sustainability Committee meetings and has been active with that team for over 5 years. Born and raised in Bemidji, Anna has an incredibly strong sense of place and is excited to be raising her 2 daughters so close to family and in a community and landscape that has shaped her so profoundly. She is excited to share her passion for and experience in renewable energy development to help BSU further its commitment to environmental stewardship, and work to create a resilient and sustainable Bemidji community.


  • BS University of Minnesota Duluth, Environmental Studies
  • MS Bemidji State University, Environmental Studies
  • Ph.D. Aalborg University, Denmark, Sustainable Energy Planning


  • Introduction to Environmental Science
  • People of the Environment
  • Environmental Controversies
  • Risk, Resilience, and Sustainable Community Development
  • Sustainability: Theory and Practice
  • Environmental Law and Policy

Research Interests

Inspired by Kate Raworth’s work in Doughnut Economics, Anna works to build self-healing, resilient communities that thrive in balance with Earth’s ecological boundaries. Her current work is focused on Bemidji State University’s Climate Commitment which outlines two key priorities:

  1. Guiding BSU to become a carbon neutral institution by 2050
  2. Partnering with a broad range of community stakeholders in energy, housing, transportation, materials & waste, water, health & wellness, and economic opportunity to identify important nexus for sustainable community development.

Over the last decade, Anna has partnered with utility providers, tribes, local planners, non-profits, and local governments to help develop local solar energy projects with an emphasis on equity and access. She is collaborating with fellow colleagues in the Center for Sustainability Studies to create a rooftop solar generation potential map for the greater Bemidji Area, as well as coauthoring a chapter in a book on the Green New Deal. A few local project examples Anna has helped champion include Beltrami Electric Cooperative’s Northern Solar community solar garden, the Community Solar for Community Action solar garden serving low income tribal members in Leech Lake, and 13 local residential solar installations made possible by a partnership with Solar United Neighbors of Minnesota.

Anna is interested in working with passionate students, both undergraduate and graduate, interested in actively building community resilience, wherever they call home.