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Joshua C. Farley
Professor, Community Development and Applied Economics
Office: 205 B Morrill Hall
Fellow, Gund Institute for Ecological Economics
Work: (802) 656-2989



Curriculum Vita


Current Courses


Current Research Projects


Recent Presentations

Open access teaching material


I have a very interdisciplinary academic background, with degrees in biology, international affairs and economics. However, I disagree with much of what I learned in my economics degree, both scientifically and ethically. I believe that the economy is best modeled as a subsystem of the finite global ecosystem, constrained by the laws of ecology and physics.   My broad research interests focus on the design of economic institutions capable of balancing what is biophysically possible with what is socially, psychologically and ethically desirable.

I try to take an applied, problem solving approach to both research and teaching. Ecological economics is too important to focus primarily on academic studies that circulate among a group of disciplinary peers before slowly diffusing out to the broader public. Many policy makers, non-government organizations and businesses would benefit greatly from the insights and perspectives of ecological economics if only they could connect to its practitioners.  I like to integrate teaching, research and service through problem solving workshops or skill-shares (to borrow a term from colleague David Batker) in collaboration with NGOs, governments, and local communities that simultaneously teach and apply ecological economics.  Ultimately, applied problem solving gives us the opportunity to empirically test our hypotheses and values, falsify them at times, and develop our transdiscipline in a truly scientific fashion.

I also enjoy conceptual work that in the long run can change our paradigms concerning what is biophysically and behaviorally possible, societal goals that guide our actions, and economic institutions.  I firmly believe that the economy is continually co-evolving with the local and global ecosystem that sustain and contain it.  Our economy must continually adapt to its changing environment, but the process of adaption further alters the environment.   Economic institutions that were well adapted to the challenges of the 19th and 20th century are likely to be woefully ill-adapted to the challenges of the 21st century.  Furthermore, human behavior is affected by the institutions we adopt.  Market economies for example seem to stimulate self-interested behavior, while alternative economic institutions can stimulate cooperation, reciprocity and altruism.  The most serious challenges of the 21st century can be modelled as prisoners dilemmas, which are best solved through cooperation. 


Last modified October 01 2015 05:45 AM

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