Faculty, staff, and students with expertise in environmental policy and planning pursue studies of various dimensions of collective action and governance related to environment, energy, and natural resources. They address questions of how politics, policy, laws, conflict, collaboration, and social values are reflected in collective efforts at local, regional, national, international scales to define and respond to environment and natural resource issues. Researchers are involved in projects that examine how we use policies, planning processes, markets, communication, stakeholder engagement, and community-based initiatives to manage natural resources and promote environmental and energy sustainability.

Faculty Research Programs

Cecilia Danks

People at logging site

Environmental policy, sustainable forestry, community forestry, climate change mitigation, forest carbon markets, woody biomass energy

Cecilia’s work focuses on the intersection of community well-being and forest stewardship. Her research examines how institutional arrangements in natural resource management – especially innovations in collaborative governance, tenure, market initiatives, and multi-sector partnerships – contribute to social and ecological sustainability. In many of her projects, she works with community partners and uses participatory research methods in combination with quantitative and qualitative analyses. She leads the Forest Carbon & Communities Research Group which is currently studying issues of equity and effectiveness related to forest carbon markets and community-based wood biomass energy.

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Clare Ginger

Graduate student conducting survey.

Environmental policy, watershed/forest planning, organization studies

Clare's research focuses on policy and planning processes with applications to environmental issues. She is interested in how we define the intersection of the public interest and environment and natural resources through collective processes in varied organizational settings. Her graduate students work on projects related to forest and watershed policy and planning with consideration of citizen participation, integration of science and social values, and definitions of property. Clare collaborates with colleagues to assess policy and planning dimensions of non-timber forest product gathering in the U.S. and the organizational dynamics of linking population, health, and environment projects in less-developed countries. She is starting work that focuses on how we define and address issues of climate change in multi-jurisdictional settings for watershed and forest ecosystem planning and management.

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Bindu Panikkar

Environmental health, community based research, environmental policy, natural resources, Arctic environment and health, environmental health social movements, environmental justice

Bindu's research examines how science is constructed, debated, and utilized in the permitting process of newly proposed mines in Alaska. It seeks to understand the governance of natural resources in Alaska, especially as it pertains to increasing access as a consequence to climate change. She is also continuing her research project that she started at the Arctic Institute of North America, a citizen science/community-based research project to monitor species diversity, wildlife health, and environmental change in Yukon and Nunavut as well as to understand the Inuit ways of dealing with sea ice changes and their use of scientific weather information in the Northwest Passage.

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Kristine (Kris) Stepenuck

Lake Champlain

Impacts of land use on water quality, citizen science and volunteer monitoring, understanding outcomes of monitoring and community outreach efforts

Kris' research includes assessing impacts of land use on water quality, comparing volunteer to professional water monitoring methods, and assessing outcomes of volunteer water monitoring and other citizen science programs. She engages in outreach and research that integrate public engagement with water resources knowledge and social action.

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Patricia Stokowski

Colorado mining town

Outdoor recreation, leisure and tourism sociology, natural resource planning

Patricia conducts research about social, cultural, and discursive aspects of outdoor recreation behavior, environmental interpretation, and tourism development in rural and resource dependent communities. Her current research focuses on the place-making processes enacted by people in transitioning communities, the cultural meanings of forest landscapes, and community / agency discourses in natural resource management. Her work emphasizes interpretive research methods, and she is known for her longitudinal study of the development and impacts of gambling-based tourism in the former mining towns of Central City and Black Hawk, Colorado.

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