Trading Zones in Environmental Education- new book authored and edited by DNR staff

A new book titled “Trading Zones in Environmental Education” has been released with Marianne Krasny and Justin Dillon as the editors. It features chapters written by Marianne Krasny, Shorna Allred, Rich Stedman, Keith Tidball, and Arjen Wals of the Department of Natural Resources.

To see details and to order a copy of the book, click here.

Book synopsis:

Environmental educators often adhere to a relatively narrow theoretical paradigm focusing on changing attitudes and knowledge, which are assumed to foster pro-environmental behaviors, which, in turn, leads to better environmental quality. This book takes a different approach to trying to understand how environmental education might influence people, their communities, and the environment. The authors view changing environmental behaviors as a «wicked» problem, that is, a problem that does not readily lend itself to solutions using existing disciplinary approaches. The book as a whole opens up new avenues for pursuing environmental education research and practice and thus expands the conversation around environmental education, behaviors, and quality. Through developing transdisciplinary research questions and conceptual paradigms, this book also suggests new practices beyond those currently used in environmental education, natural resources management, and other environmental fields.

Grad Student Nirav Patel Selected As Outstanding Graduate TA

DNR graduate student Nirav Patel was nominated and selected to be the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Core Biology Program (BIOG 1440) for 2012-13. The award values the important contribution made towards the core biology instructional program and recognizes the distinguished performance in this vital role.

Nirav Patel is a graduate assistant at the Human Dimension Research Unit (HDRU) working with Dr. Richard Stedman on his doctoral work. His research is focused on the role of community perception, specifically the attitudes of Educators and Students towards Renewable Energy Systems (RES) and its impact on assessing Renewable Energy Literacy (REL). He has been actively involved in teaching various biology courses at Cornell University. He has also served as a visiting lecturer for PSP introductory biology courses and served as an instructor for the introductory biology cluster-writing program. He has also worked as a teaching fellow at the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) for new graduate students, a position that involved instruction in methods of teaching, development of course materials, and evaluation of new graduate instructors.

Nirav Patel will be recognized at a lunch reception on May 08, 2013.

Richard Stedman to Participate in Young Social Scientists’ Sustainability Research Forum

Richard Stedman is participating in the Young Social Scientists’ Sustainability Research Forum (YSSSRF). This event showcases the research programs of talented younger social science faculty working on energy, environment and/or economic development issues – or at the intersection of these issues. The event, hosted by the Cornell Institute for the Social Sciences (ISS), is intended to stimulate dialogue across campus, both within the social sciences around sustainability research and between the non-social science sustainability research community and social scientists.

When: February 21, 2013, 12:00-5:00pm

Where: ILR Conference Center, Room 423

Two Students win EPA STAR Fellowships

Department of Natural Resources graduate students Darrick Nighthawk Evensen (Cornell DNR M.S. 2011) and Christine Moskell (Cornell DNR M.S. 2012) were each awarded an EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Graduate Fellowship in the Social Sciences program area. According to the EPA, the goal of this fellowship is “to encourage promising students to obtain advanced degrees and pursue careers in an environmental field. This goal is consistent with the mission of EPA, which is to provide leadership in the nation’s environmental science, research, education, assessment, restoration, preservation, pollution prevention and sustainability efforts.” In 2012, over 1500 graduate students applied for 80 fellowships across 19 program areas

Christine (advisor: Dr. Shorna Allred) and Darrick (advisor: Dr. Richard Stedman) are both PhD students in the Human Dimensions Research Unit.

Here is a summary of Darrick’s research project, titled “Linking social representations of natural gas development to community sustainability in the USA and Canada“:

While unconventional natural gas development presents a potentially lucrative opportunity to bolster the US economy, support energy independence, and revitalize depressed regions, it also threatens community sustainability. Darrick will examine the influence of individual and community-level factors on actions that support sustainable development, thereby facilitating identification and assessment of actions communities can take to promote sustainability.

Here is a summary of Christine’s research project, titled “An Examination of Citizen Participation and Procedural Fairness in Large-Scale Urban Tree Planting Initiatives in the United States.”:

“Cities across the U.S. are planting millions of trees, and local governments are relying on residents to help maintain the trees. However, residents are not always consulted before trees are planted and thus, they may view the plantings as unfair due to the financial cost and physical burden related to tree maintenance. This research examines the relationship between residents’ perceptions of the procedural fairness of urban tree planting initiatives and their attitudes toward, and intention to steward, newly planted trees.”

 

Check out the article in the Online Cornell Chronicle at http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Nov12/EPAfellowships.html.

DNR Faculty Make the 20 Most Cited List for Society & Natural Resources

Two of the top 20 social science articles listed by Routledge’s Society & Natural Resources Journal were written by DNR faculty and affiliates. The citations are below.

Stedman, R.C. 2003. Is It Really Just a Social Construction?: The Contribution of the Physical Environment to Sense of Place. Society & Natural Resources 16(8):671-685.

Schusler, T.M., D.J. Decker, and M.J. Pfeffer. 2003. Social Learning for Collaborative Natural Resource Management. Society & Natural Resources 16(4):309-326.

After years of ‘fracking,’ Pennsylvanians remain mixed about gas drilling


David Kay
Kay
Richard Stedman
Stedman
By Stacey Shackford

 

Despite having an eight-year head start on Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction, Pennsylvania residents are just as uncertain about the effects of horizontal hydraulic drilling as New Yorkers, researchers at Cornell and Penn State have found.

And although they are generally more pessimistic about the potential positives of “hydrofracking,” New Yorkers are still more likely to support exploration of the Marcellus Shale than oppose it.

Richard Stedman, associate professor of natural resources at Cornell, presented the findings as one of three experts at a panel of the Agribusiness Economic Outlook Conference, held Dec. 13 at the Statler Hotel on campus.

“Uncertainty does not seem to go away over time, although Pennsylvania residents were more willing to accept it, given equal recognition of the impacts,” Stedman said.

He said an overwhelming majority of respondents to a survey of 6,000 households in the two states admitted to knowing nothing or very little about what to expect in terms of key economic and environmental effects of natural gas extraction.

Their trust of the key players involved in the gas drilling debate was also very low, although Pennsylvania residents were slightly more willing to trust gas companies than their New York counterparts, who considered scientists, cooperative extension specialists and environmental groups more trustworthy.

Nearly 40 percent of New Yorkers surveyed said they supported gas drilling, 30 percent said they were opposed to it, and 30 percent were neutral. In Pennsylvania, 47 percent indicated their support and almost 18 percent their opposition, with 34 percent neutral.

Tim Kelsey, professor of agricultural economics at Penn State, said uncertainty pervades everything having to do with gas drilling in his state, including scientific and economic analysis by experts, as there is not much reliable data.

“A lot of the discussion is based on anecdotes because this activity is relatively new,” he said. “We don’t yet have good secondary data on much of the impacts and implications.”.”

His own survey of 1,000 residents who lived within 1,000 feet of gas drilling wells in Pennsylvania’s Bradford and Tioga counties found that more than 52 percent reported a positive personal impact, 17 percent reported a negative impact, almost 4 percent said there were both positives and negatives, and almost 28 percent said they were unsure.

He said rural landowners, who hold the majority of the leases, tend to be more positive.

“You don’t see that level of perceived benefit among rank-and-file community members,” he added.

Kelsey said he’s found it difficult to gauge effects on municipalities and agriculture.

Emergency services have had to respond to increased call loads, and roads in rural areas with poor infrastructure have taken a beating, but residents report the gas companies have been very responsive in repairing damage.

“I have yet to talk to a municipality that has said its taxpayers are bearing the burden,” he said.

Most of the state’s farmland is located away from the Marcellus Shale. But farms located near wells have reported some challenges, including access to their fields, transportation, competition for labor and public perceptions, as some people question the quality or safety of food produced on drilling sites, Kelsey said.

David Kay, a senior extension associate in Cornell’s Department of Development Sociology, said uncertainty about the pace, scale and geography of drilling sites is one of the biggest challenges when reviewing the economic impacts of natural gas extraction.

“I would exercise caution in believing those hyping the economic benefit, but also those condemning it because of environmental impacts. It is all determined by how many wells are being drilled,” Kay said.

Stacey Shackford is a staff writer in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Professor Stedman appears on WSKG to discuss Macellus Shale

Prof. Rich Stedman (along with Susan Christopherson, Brian Rahm and Darby Kiley) was a guest on WSKG Community Conversation (a live call-in show guest hosted this week by Susan Arbetter of Albany Now) on November 29.  The discussion focused on—what else—Marcellus Shale development and the Supplementary Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) in particular.

Current Updates in the Human Dimensions Research Unit

The Human Dimensions Research Unit (HDRU) at Cornell University strives to expand the understanding of academicians, students, and natural resources agency staff about the human behavioral aspects of natural resource management and policy. We work to develop fundamental understandings of human behavior associated with resource management and to apply concepts and empirical findings to real-world, contemporary problems of management.

Professor Dan Decker, director of HDRU, is currently co-chair for an international human dimensions conference, organizing a plenary session for that conference, and is serving with HDRU Senior Research Associate Bruce Lauber  as co-editor of an associated special issue of the Human Dimensions of Wildlife journal. The conference will take place in Breckenridge, Colorado, September 24-27, 2012 and is a cooperative effort  between Cornell University and Colorado State University. The conference theme is “Contributions of Human Dimensions to Adaptive Capacity for Fish and Wildlife Conservation.

Dan Decker is also currently involved in multiple outreach workshops for fish and wildlfie professionals. He has worked with Cindi Jacobson (MS and PhD from Natural Resources)  John Organ (both with US Fish and Wildlife Service), as well as Chris Smith (Wildlife Management Institute) to develop a third workshop in their series at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference on “Transforming State Fish and Wildlife Agencies.”   The 2012 workshop is focused on Perspectives from Outside the Tent Looking In:  Enhancing State Wildlife Agencies’ Impact on the Future of Wildlife Conservation.”  The objective of this workshop is to identify challenges and opportunities for collaboration in wildlife conservation and strategies leading to effective wildlife resource governance.   The workshop focus is on how potential conservation partners (NGOs, federal and local governments, etc.) for State Wildlife Agencies see the direction of needed state agency transformation.  Dan is also planning a series of workshops for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on “Thinking Like a Manager,” “Implications of the Public Trust Doctrine for State Fish and Wildlife Agencies” and “Human Dimensions integration in Fish and Wildlife management through Impact Management.”

Associate Professor Richard C. Stedman, associate director of HDRU, was recently awarded (as part of the Cornell Cooperative Extension team) the David J. Allee and Paul R. Eberts Community and Economic Vitality Award for work related to Marcellus shale.

Rich Stedman is also the Cornell University representative on a National Science Foundation proposal: People, water, and climate: Predicting change, response, and adaptation in socio-ecological systems (Water Sustainability & Climate).  If successful, HDRU would be involved in a basin wide study of linkages between ecological and social change, which fits nicely with current Army Corps and Great Lakes Fisheries projects.

Associate Professor Shorna B. Allred, associate director of HDRU, is involved in multiple workshops and webinars including a Cornell Cooperative Extension Workshop that held October 14 titled “Fostering Community Engagement in Urban Forestry: A Practical Toolkit for Educators.” Others include “Ties to the Land Workshops” and webinars and Climate Atlas Webinars with Cooperative Extension Associates Kristi Sullivan and Gary Goff.

Other ongoing HDRU projects (a sample) include:

  • Increasing the Effectiveness of Fish Consumption Advisories in the Great Lakes States
  • Building Local Capacity for Environmental Resources Conservation in the Face of Change
  • Assessing Agency Capacities to Manage Fish and Wildlife Health
  • Developing knowledge to manage economic, health, and safety risks of wildlife for individuals and communities in New York
  • Human dimensions knowledge to manage wildlife habituation in national parks
  • New York State Woodland Owners and Their Interest in Woody Biofuels

A more comprehensive review of 2010 projects and activities in HDRU can be found in the HDRU Annual Report. Current HDRU publications can be found here.