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Connecting climate action and global development for a just, sustainable future

Research

I am deeply interested in the challenges and opportunities that emerge at the intersection of global environmental and economic change. I use  research into agrarian livelihoods as a means to better understand how development and adaptation programs might produce durable improvements in the human condition.

Policy and Implementation 

Even the best research will be limited in its impact without engagement. I have held policy and program management positions at USAID, served as a consultant to the World Bank, and am currently a member of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel to the Global Environment Facility. I have also served as a lead author and review editor for several global environmental assessments.

Leadership

The research, policy, and projects needed to address global challenges exceed the capacities of any individual. My leadership experience is marked by efforts to build institutions that produce effective problem-solvers and solutions.

Research

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My research draws on more than twenty-five years of empirical study dedicated to better understanding how agrarian communities in sub-Saharan Africa make their way in an era of global change.  Broadly speaking, this work provides insights into the ways development and adaptation interventions result in changes to human well-being (positive and negative), how livelihoods work to order agrarian and other worlds, and how resilience presents both barriers to and opportunities for the transformative changes needed to manage our changing world. Whether developing and refining new approaches to the study of agrarian livelihoods, or shaping the conversation about climate services for development, I've continuously identified opportunities to push the frontiers of knowledge. My publications are available here.

I have led over $2 million in development and adaptation implementation projects (contributing to projects with approximately $120 million in total funding) ranging from the development of better gender assessment tools to the delivery of useful weather and climate information to farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. Through this work I have honed my targeting and communication of research findings, and my research has shaped how tens of millions of development and adaptation dollars have been spent.

My research and teaching are intimately connected to my experience in policy and implementation. The translation of research findings into worldly impact requires intimate familiarity with that which you are trying to change, whether it be conditions on the ground, the structures and systems designed to address global challenges, or the processes producing those challenges. My career path reflects a committment to this sort of engagement. I am currently the Climate Change Adaptation Panel Member on the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel to the Global Environment Facility. I have served as a policy advisor with and scientific advisor to development donors and multilateral organizations, including time at USAID as the first climate change coordinator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA) and later as a climate change science advisor on the Climate Change Team in the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and the Environment (E3). I have been a lead author and review editor for several large global environmental assessments, including the Millennium Ecosystem AssessmentUNEP’s Fourth Global Environment Outlook, and Working Group II of the IPCC, I am currently a coordinating lead author of the IPBES Transformative Change Assessment. I continue to work on issues of policy with the US Government, including serving as a member of the National Academies Climate Security Roundtable and as a coordinating author of the BIFAD reports Systemic Solutions for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation in Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems and Operationalizing USAID’s Climate Strategy to Achieve Transformative Adaptation and Mitigation in Agricultural and Food Systems

Policy and Implementation

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Leadership

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After more than fifteen years of work at the intersection of development and climate change, I was motivated to take up a role in higher education leadership. There are limits to what any individual can do in the face of today's challenges. Lone geniuses will not save the world. Real solutions emerge from building deep teams with diverse skills and experiences and getting them to work together effectively. As a leader in higher education, I see my role as anticipating challenges and opportunities to address them, and designing institutions and curricula to produce effective problem-solvers. As Director (Dean) of IDCE at Clark, I led the design and implementation of a distinctive curriculum aimed at creating leaders in this space. Leveraging the department's unique ability to cross domestic and international contexts while connecting society to the environment in which it exists, the curriculum blends the systematic knowledge of traditional Master's degree programs with problem-centered requirements that teach students to work across disciplinary boundaries, a skill critical to effectively identifying and addressing the sources of global challenges. This unique curriculum is not a response to markets for academic degrees. It is an effort to use for the unique strengths of IDCE and its degree programs to make a market for our degrees that anticipates employer needs and student enthusiasm.