Projects and Collaborations

The Coweeta Listening Project
The Coweeta Listening Project (CLP) seeks to translate long-term ecological science relating to (ex)urbanization and climate change within the Southern Appalachians into forms of knowledge that can have meaningful ramifications for a range of “counter-publics”. The CLP is working to address needs of individual ecological researchers and the greater community by offering a project-wide theoretical framework, methodology, and community of practice.  The CLP seeks to foster the continued evolution from existing forms of Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) to Long-Term Socioecological Research (LTSER) through its partnership ranging between Co-PIs of the Coweeta LTER and the counter-publics within Southern Appalachian communities.  Ultimately, the CLP seeks to improve understanding of the steps necessary for translating scientific results about ecological issues into more democratically produced forms of information that can benefit larger proportions of local communities. For more information on the CLP, contact Nik Heynen.
Exploratory Study Examining Factors Related to Land Retention and Loss among Heir Property Owners in Chatham County, GA
This preliminary investigation, undertaken by researchers from the USDA-Forest Service and the University of Georgia, has sought to investigate the complex social, economic, and environmental factors that shape the loss and retention of heir property. We have taken a wider perspective to look at how heir property conflicts play out in both rural and urban areas of the Low Country, focusing specifically the ways social and economic values overlap and conflict with each other and on the role of family relations in heir property conflicts. This research is the beginning of a larger initiative to understand the broader socio-economic context of minority land-loss in the Southeast and explore strategies for its mitigation. For more information, contact Meredith Welch-Devine.
Pastoralism in Transition: Social and Ecological Dimensions of Vulnerability
Drylands cover 40% of the continent of Africa, and are the basis for traditional pastoralist social-ecological systems, in which societies have adapted to rely heavily or entirely on livestock production for their livelihoods in harsh and variable environments. Modernity has brought drastic political, social and land use changes, as well as unprecedented population growth, land degradation and more frequent droughts that decimate herds. Today, fewer pastoralists are meeting their livelihood needs through livestock and many are seeking novel avenues for livelihood diversification. Such transitions entail profound changes in ecological functioning of landscapes, in household- and collective-level risk exposure, and in the institutions governing evolving and emerging land use systems.
We are employing an interdisciplinary approach to evaluate emerging patterns of vulnerability in two pastoralist communities in Kenya which have begun to diversify into maize agriculture alongside their struggling livestock-based livelihood system. We are adopting approaches to investigate how mixed land use affects the sensitivity of range productivity to drought and shifting grazing pressures; how composition and inequities in household livestock assets create differential patterns of risk exposure associated with entry into agriculture; and how evolving land use institutions affect the coping capacity and resilience at individual and collective scales.
Lizzie King (UGA Odum School of Ecology & Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources), Laura German (UGA Dept. of Anthropology), Trenton Franz (University of Nebraska, School of Natural resources, CICR affiliate), Gabriele Volpato (UGA CICR postdoctoral scholar), Ryan Unks (ICON PhD Candidate)
For more information, contact Lizzie King or Laura German
Social Acceptability of Biofuels in the U.S. South
Given the inherent complexity of issues related to bioenergy development and its current and potential impacts on broader society, research on the sustainability of bioenergy requires interdisciplinary and multi-institutional cooperation. Using a complementary array of qualitative social science methods and an integrative analytical framework, researchers are conducting ethnographic research in several communities throughout the southeastern U.S. where bioenergy facilities are currently operating. The main goals of this research are to: 1) outline the key cultural, social, economic, and ecological aspects of the biofuels industry in the southeastern U.S.; 2) describe policies, procedures, institutions, and stakeholders that influence the processes of bioenergy development; 3) identify the major themes and narratives within biofuels discourses and analyze the ways that these are strategically deployed by various actors; 4) document the ways that different components of bioenergy systems are valued; and 5) demonstrate how ethnography can provide a nuanced understanding of the social context of biofuel development in the southeastern U.S. For more information, contact Pete Brosius.
The State of Tradeoffs in Conservation
The purpose of this research project is to determine to what extent conservation projects explicitly or implicitly recognize and work on trade-offs. The underlying hypothesis is that few conservation projects, if any, explicitly and adequately identify trade-offs in undertaking their conservation projects, and so in success, in terms of nature conservation and in terms of people’s appreciation, protection or sustainable management of nature is undermined. If the “Advancing Conservation in a Social Context” initiative is to be a success, then a thorough understanding of how conservation practitioners perceive trade-offs (and the challenges they present) within their projects will be critical. For more information, contact Pete Brosius.
Words Apart: The Politics of Translation in Conservation
In transnational conservation initiatives that are dependent on heterogeneous networks of actors, the power to participate in decision-making is increasingly affected by a politics of translation: that is, who has the power to define the terms, who has the power to use them, and whose voices are heard when decisions are made? For the indigenous people, conservation practitioners, policy-makers, and funders working to implement Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) initiatives in San Martin, Peru, differing perceptions of key terms are among the greatest obstacles to doing coordinated conservation work. In this dissertation, I trace the key terms climate change, ecosystem services, and REDD+ as they move through networks of actors at the regional and local levels in San Martin, at the national level in Lima, and the international level in the United States, to understand how these terms are understood, used, and transformed, and in the process, how they shape participation. Multi-sited fieldwork in San Martin, Lima, and Washington, DC has included participant observation at key meetings, interviews, social network analysis, content analysis, and discourse analysis. The results of this research indicate that the perception of key terms is shaped by educational experience, cultural background, linguistic ability, and access to information, and that the ability to appropriate and use key terms is a major factor in participation. A greater awareness of the politics of translation in conservation will enable actors to develop more equitable participation processes and in turn, more effective conservation initiatives that better integrate global conservation priorities with local needs.

Support for preliminary fieldwork was provided through the initiative Advancing Conservation in a Social Context, funded by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and through a research travel award from UGA’s Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute. Dissertation fieldwork was funded by a Science, Technology and Society Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation, and by UGA’s Graduate School. For more information, contact Patricia Dunne.

Previous Projects
4th World Conservation Congress Event Ethnography
In October of 2008, CICR organized an “event ethnography” of the World Conservation Congress (WCC) in Barcelona, Spain. The WCC is a two week long meeting, held every four years, of conservation professionals and policy makers from around the world. During the first week, the 8,000 participants discuss trends and current issues in conservation as part of a conservation forum. The second week is devoted to debate and voting on resolutions that influence the direction of conservation within the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for the next four years. Working with other partners in the ACSC initiative, CICR staff coordinated the research efforts of over 20 ethnographers at the WCC to follow conversations and trace issues during the two week event. Research focuses included biofuels, market approaches to conservation, climate change, and ocean conservation. For more information, contact Pete Brosius.

Collaborative Event Ethnography of the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity
Using an emerging method developed by CICR, Collaborative Event Ethnography (CEE), research collaborators (including faculty and graduate students from Duke University, University of Toronto and other institutions) studied the 10th Conference of the Parties (CoP10) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) held in October 2010 to produce critical insights into the transformation of environmental governance in the contemporary economic and political context. For more information, contact Pete Brosius.

Social and Cultural Dimensions of Climate Change Adaptation: Anthropological and Sociological Approaches to Social Vulnerability and Biofuels in the U.S. South
This project is a collaborative effort among social scientists working with CICR and the U.S. Forest Service; we are currently engaged in a set of integrated research activities on (1) social vulnerability to climate change in urban and rural Georgia and (2) the social context of forest-based biofuel development as a component of climate change adaptation in the southeastern U.S. Building on maps and data sets that integrate climate change indicators and census-based indicators of social vulnerability, we are conducting ethnographic fieldwork in several areas identified as being high in both social vulnerability and in current and potential future climatic changes. We are also using the Integrative Framework developed by ACSC in collaboration with CICR to explore the cultural, social, economic, and ecological trade-offs that different biofuels development options present; we hope to find synergies and help identify policy and management pathways towards more sustainable and equitable social and ecological outcomes. For more information, contact Pete Brosius.