I am a researcher, writer, and educator. My fields of specialization are climate change adaptation, environmental politics and political ecology, and disaster studies.

 

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Biography

I was recently appointed Visiting Professor of Environmental Studies at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, where I will continue my research and teach a broad range of environmental social science courses.

My BA is from Sarah Lawrence College and my PhD is from the University of California, Berkeley. I have lived in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Berkeley, and I have worked in nine countries. While still in college, I cofounded SustainUS: US Youth for Sustainable Development. I have worked for a range of nonprofit organizations including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development.

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Research

My research applies critical theory and social science to understand how societies adapt to climate change. You can read some of my publications and see my qualifications on my page at Academia.edu. You can read some of my draft writing, productivity tips, and latest news on this site, in my Notebook. I am active on Twitter.

My over-arching research question is: How do social power and social difference affect adaptation to climate change, and how does adaptation reinforce or disrupt social differences or hierarchies? The questions I currently investigate fit broadly into the themes of political ecology of disaster, epistemological authority, and international environmental politics.

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Teaching

As a teacher, my purpose is to lead my students to mastery of course concepts rather than the simple absorption of information.  To do so, I build my students’ skills from retrieval of information, to synthesis of information, and finally critical analysis. True mastery of a concept means it can be used as a tool beyond initial in-class applications. In mathematics, this process involves student-led derivation of key formulas upon which the structure of logical theory is built. While the social sciences may not have equivalent fundamental principles, all students of social science can learn to understand and exploit the underlying models of social and political thought in a similar way. To lead students to this meta-analysis of social patterns, I help them to examine their own preconceptions, asking them not only what they think about an issue or concept, but why they think it.

Interdisciplinary approaches can be discomfiting, even threatening, when they challenge our notions of “right” and “wrong” ways of thinking – fundamental ways that people make sense of the world. I believe that students need to be supported as they gain greater comfort with ambiguity. I aim to help students become more intellectually flexible, more confident in their own analytical powers, and more capable of intellectual adventure.

I have posted a selection of comments from student evaluations on the Testimonials page.

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