Dr. Trisha Shrum is a behavioral and environmental economist focused on using transdisciplinary theory, collaborations, and methodologies to improve our understanding of the drivers of decision-making, especially for decisions that relate to climate change and natural resources. Her academic background in ecology and evolutionary biology, environmental science, economics, and policy, as well as her professional work in government and non-governmental organizations, provides a broad base of knowledge and experience that is vital for understanding complex environmental problems.
Utilizing a theoretical foundation of behavioral economics, psychology, and decision theory, Dr. Shrum studies two key components of decision-making: 1) individual preferences, which may be well-established, slowly evolving, or rapidly formulated, and 2) evaluations of outcome-specific costs and benefits, which often involve risk and uncertainty. Her current research focus is on the evolution of individual-level preferences for pro-environmental behavior and the role of information availability on individual’s evaluations of risks and benefits.
Dr. Shrum specializes in designing randomized control experiments and collaborates with scientists across many fields, applying these methods to explore research questions related to environmental and agricultural policy, risk communication, and risk management behavior. She has worked on a wide variety of topic areas, including intergenerational climate change impacts, extreme climate events, carbon dioxide removal, energy efficiency, natural resource management, biosecurity, cattle ranching, and, most recently, COVID-19.
Before coming to UVM, Dr. Shrum co-founded an award-winning non-profit project called DearTomorrow, which asks people to write, share, and archive letters to the next generation about their personal climate legacy and the role they want to play in addressing the climate emergency. The work of DearTomorrow has reached millions of people and has been covered by NPR, the Scientific American, the New York Times, Vox, Burlington’s own Seven Days magazine, and many other news media organizations. She continues to volunteer as an advisor to DearTomorrow and brings her experience as a social entrepreneur to the courses she teaches on Community Entrepreneurship.
At UVM, she serves as a faculty member of the Department of Community Development & Applied Economics, the Masters of Public Administration Program, and the Sustainable Development, Policy, Economics, & Governance Doctoral Program. She is a faculty fellow in the Social Ecological Gaming and Simulation (SEGS) Lab Research Fellow and a faculty affiliate in the Gund Institute for the Environment Faculty.