Community Development and Applied Economics at the University of Vermont

Community Development and Applied Economics

Richard Watts

richard watts

Richard Watts, PhD Assistant Research Professor

  • PhD 2006 University of Vermont
  • MA 1989 Syracuse University
  • BA 1985 State University of New York at Cortland
Areas of Expertise:

strategic communications & media discourse, public policy,
energy use and transportation behavior, citizen participation

View/Download CV (PDF)
Contact Information
Office: 208 G Morrill Hall
Phone: 802.656.9775
Email: email Richard
Google+: Richard Watts

Richard A. Watts, Ph.D. is an interdisciplinary scholar whose research focuses on the relationships between public communications and policy outcomes. Richard examines the role of strategic communications in the development and implementation of public policy related to energy, transportation and public health. This research builds on his experience as a policy and communication professional in public policy and political campaigns, as a journalist and a consultant to government agencies, advocacy organizations and business groups. Richard most recently completed a book using this approach sponsored by the Center for Research on Vermont; Public Meltdown: The Story of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. Richard grew up in Putney, Vermont and currently lives in Hinesburg with his wife and daughter and two dogs.


Current research projects include studying how leaders of organizations committed to sustainable transportation planning use their communication strategies to promote sustainable transportation and efforts to reduce dependence on personal automobiles. In a related project we are studying the relationship between biking and quality of life, looking at attributes of bicycle transportation that enhance or detract from subjective perceptions and objective measures of quality of life. Also underway are three projects related to media discourse and public policy in the area of tobacco and sugar sweetened beverage excise tax increase campaigns; the framing battle and public debate over wind power in Vermont and the on-going public debate over the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant.


S. Kaza, R. Watts. (2012). The Environmental Program 40 Years. The University of Vermont/Environmental Program.

R. Watts. (2012). Public Meltdown: The Story of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. Amherst, MA: White River Press.

R. Watts. (2012). The 30-Year Campaign to Reduce Smoking Rates In Vermont. White paper. Community Development & Applied Economics.

R. Watts, A. Witham. (2012). Social Network Analysis of Sustainable Transportation Organizations. UVM Transportation Research Center.

R. Watts. (2012). The Role of Media Actors in Reframing the Media Discourse in the Decision to Reject Relicensing the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences.

R. Watts, K. Frick, J. Maddison. (2012). Policy Making, Incrementalism and News Discourse: Gasoline Tax Debates in Eight U.S. States. Public Works Management & Policy.

J. Maddison, R.Watts. (2012). Newspaper Source Prominence in News Media Coverage of Motor Vehicle Emissions 2000-2008. Newspaper Research Journal.

J. Maddison, R. Watts. (2011). The Technological Fix as a Frame in Media Debates about Tailpipe Emissions. Technology in Society.

R. Watts, P. Hines, J. Dowds. (2010). The Debate over Re-Licensing the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. The Electricity Journal.

R. Watts, (2010). An Examination of Gasoline Taxes in News Media Discourse. New York Transportation Journal.

R. Watts. (2010). Increasing Carpooling in Vermont: Opportunities and Obstacles. Transportation Research Center.

A. Weeks, R. Watts, L. Aultman-Hall. (2009). The Transportation Impacts of Smart Growth in Two Maine Rural Towns. Transportation Research Center.

S. Letendre and R. Watts. (2008). Effects of Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles on the Vermont Electric Transmission System. Transportation Research Center.

R. Watts, E. Wang, L. Aultman-Hall. (2008). Transportation Efficiency in Vermont. Transportation Research Center.

R. Watts. (2007). Voices of Vermonters on Vermont’s Transportation Future.

R. Watts. (2006). Engaging Vermonters in Vermont’s Energy Future. Snelling Center for Government.


CDAE 006: Energy Alternatives (ENVS 185)
CDAE 120: Strategic Writing for Public Communications
CDAE 392: Graduate Seminar
ENVS 195: Sustainable Transportation Planning (CDAE 195/NR 185)
ENVS 201: Research Methods
ENVS 295: Cars, Culture and the Media
TRC 295: Critical Issues for Transportation
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