Who opposes a Green New Deal and why? Can joining a mission-driven cooperative free dairy farmers from dog-eat-dog competition and allow them to cooperate for economic empowerment and environmental conservation? Why does the Montana Crow Nation embrace coal while the nearby Northern Cheyenne do not? Why does the Farm Bureau support CAFO (factory farm) policies that hurt many of its members? Underlying these concrete questions are themes of identity, cognition, and institutions. I focus on these themes in my research on the intersections between economic democracy and environmental justice in capitalist political-economies. I am very interested in how social hierarchies (e.g., race, gender, nation) and cultural values (e.g., regarding cooperation vs. individualism) co-evolve and how these structural forces influence collective action to protect the environment and resist economic concentration. My research projects are methodologically diverse, integrating quantitative and qualitative analyses, sometimes using spatial data.
I'm currently working in three areas. 1) My dissertation/book-in-progress uses the rise of the organic dairy sector to explore the possibilities of transitioning to a more sustainable agricultural system, as well as the institutional and structural forces that coopt would-be virtuous processes. 2) For my current postdoctoral fellowship at UC-Berkeley's Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, I am researching the ways that institutions of agricultural producer associations promote and obstruct participatory democracy. 3) In pilot experimental work, I am refining theory on what I call anti-environmental masculine overcompensation. This line of research was sparked by field observations about how certain masculinities pose obstacles for believing in human-caused climate change.
In my former life as an environmental economist, I focused on spatial bio-econometric modeling of social-ecological systems, including in the Brazilian Amazon, the northern lakes of Wisconsin, and mixed agricultural landscapes.