Saturday, January 5, 2013

Working to bring SOCY to life

Working on the syllabus for "Introduction to Sociology" starting Jan 14th.  Key objective is to bring Sociology to life for the predominantly freshmen/sophomore students.  I use the text SOC by Jon Witt combined with loads of examples that illustrate the Sociological Imagination as used in real life.  As examples, on the first day I"ll ask students "What forces have shaped their decision to enroll in CU Boulder?  In SOCY 1001?  Choose their major?"  The myriad answers will illustrate the ways that economics, politics, family, peers, cultural norms, gender, and many other social processes/factors interact to shape the course of each of our lives.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Climate & Kangaroos

After a year of sick leave, I'm thrilled to be returning to the world of research on population and climate change. This is scholarship with critical meaning for the planet.

 I landed yesterday in Canberra, Australia for a seminar organized by the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population's Committee on Population and Climate Change.

The seminar examines the human dimensions of global change and I'm presenting my collaborative work on migration as a livelihood strategy in the face of environmental scarcity in rural South Africa.

I believe this meeting is important. The IPCC is working hard on better projecting emissions, better understanding drivers of climate change, and better considering adaptation and mitigation strategies.

All of these have demographic dimensions -- and all are being considered by leading scholars at this week's workshop.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

CEP Fellowship & Mexican Migration-Environment project

Looking forward to a new project this summer in collaboration with the Center for Environment & Population (, CU-Boulder Economics graduate student Sheena Murray ( and my IBS colleague and Geographer, Fernando Riosmena (

We will examining environmental aspects of Mexican migration making use of data from the Mexican Migration Project (

More on the CEP fellowship program here:

Progress reports soon!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Population Association of America, 2010



Just returning from the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America in Dallas. I presented new research on "Environmental Change and Risky Sex: Exploring through Livelihoods in Haiti." This paper, collaborative with John Reid-Hresko and Tom Dickinson, makes use of the Demographic and Health Survey for Haiti and we model risky sexual as related to local environmental change. The hypothesis is that, as households have fewer and fewer local natural resources from which to derive livelihoods, members may engage in transactional sex (as documented in other vulnerable settings). We do find that impoverished women in areas of very low natural resource availability are more likely to engage in risky sex as measured by sexual encounters without condoms. We continue to refine the analyses and will send out for peer review during summer months.

Ecosystem Services & Poverty Alleviation in Kenya

Submitted a "Partership and Project Development" proposal to DFID's call for research to "Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation." I would work with The Nature Conservancy-Africa and the Green Belt Movement to develop a project modeling the socio-ecological system on the edge of Kenya's Mau Forest. Key would be the distinction between the human-environment connection in intervention villages (with reforestation and alternative livelihood efforts) and villages without such programs. We should hear results in early summer!

Ouch -- sunburn in Kenya’s deforested Mau Forest

In early March, made a visit to Nairobi and Nakuru, Kenya, to meet with collaborators The Nature Conservancy and the GreenBelt Movement. I have been working with Kenyan consultants, Eco-Link, on the development of a baseline socio-economic survey to be implemented in intervention villages on the edge of the Mau Forest. The Green Belt Movement has been engaged with nursery-building, reforestation, and livelihood efforts in several villages, with support of TNC.

The Green Belt Movement (GBM) is an NGO that focuses on reforestation by engaging communities at the grassroots.  The GBM supports groups such as that below to build nurseries and plant trees.  In addition, there are efforts to expand livelihood activities beyond those requiring extractive use of the forest.



Proud nursery managers – note that this is in a location only accessible by foot, donkey or 4-wheel drive!



Lovely tree seedlings in re-usable Green Belt Movement bags – both are a source of real pride for village residents.



Me asking questions of the wonderful project manager, Ezekiel.  He took such care with me during the visit, always keeping me safe since I'm unfamiliar with the social terrain (this is my first project in Kenya, I usually work in South Africa).


This visit was during the long rainy season (March-May) so all is quite lush although they've had severe drought conditions the past two years.  Many of the seedlings in the nursery are about to be planted to capture the short-term moisture bounty.



Beehives that are part of the effort to find alternative ways to make income.



Donkeys do everything – and often look very hungry.



Believe it or not, THIS is the Mau forest. See why I got a sunburn?



Local residents need the forest as a source of energy for cooking.



This pile of fuelwood belongs to the woman above.  She wasn't happy to have her picture taken.



Illegal charcoal making is a primary livelihood activity.  Trees are cut down, and the wood smothered in a homemade kiln such as we stumbled upon here.  The wood doesn't combust, so becomes charcoal and is sold at local markets to be used as cooking fuel.  In our survey, nearly half of respondents noted charcoal as their primary livelihood activity -- no wonder there are no trees – but there simply aren't options for generation of the income needed to feed the family.  Agricultural production has recently suffered severely due to drought.  Vicious circle.



An eroded Mau forest hillside.



A Green Belt Movement / Nature Conservancy seedling.  There are nearly 10,000 planted in this section of the forest.  Even The Nature Conservancy – a typically biologically-based conservation organization – understands that without finding alternative ways for local villagers to sustain their families, these seedlings won't make it to full grown trees.



In the distance, Lake Naivasha, fed by the "water tower" which is the Mau forest.  The lake is famous for its flamingos – which are in peril due to deforestation on the hillsides above.



Downtown Ngong Hills has all one could need:  an electronics store, hair salon, downtown meeting room, ATM ("MPesa is banking through cell phones) and a bar.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Climate Change, Gender and Migration

Recently finished the first draft of a book chapter for UNESCO, collaboratively with Emmanuel David, a post-doc researcher with PhD from CU-Boulder. Our chapter explores the intersections of literature on gender/livelihoods/migration and disaster/gender. The intent is to consider the ways climate-change related migration may be differentially experienced by men and women. It was a fascinating project -- a hard one since there's little scholarship combining these factors. Much work remains to be done.

Click here for our working paper.

I hope to soon undertake original research making use of a gender lens to consider migration-environment connections.