Message from the Director, Mark Lubell

The mission of the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior (CEPB) is scientific analysis of the interactions among policy institutions, human behavior, and political decisions in the context of environmental and natural resource conflicts. Through developing and testing theoretical models from social science, CEPB seeks to derive practical lessons that can be used to improve environmental policy.

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Research Review: Bodin and Crona's Management of Natural Resources at the Community Level

By Bethany Cutts - Posted on 12 November 2010

Research Review: Bodin and Crona, 2008. Management of Natural Resources as the Community Level: Exploring the Role of Social Capital and Leadership in a Rural Fishing Community. World Development 26(12) 2763-2779.

Links to our work: When I read this article, I thought immediately of Chantelise and her project on groundwater management in Baja and Sonoma County wine regions. I also thought of the grant I recently submitted with colleagues at the University of Alaska’s Institute for Social and Economic Research. I think both Chantelise and I are involved in research that answers Bodin and Crona’s call for more comparative work on collective management of natural resources in natural resource dependent communities.

Dispatch: Agriculture, Flood Management, and Cooperation

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 09 November 2010

I went on a field trip today as part of the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute's "National Symposium on Food and Sustainability." I was in a group focused on "resiliency", and we were paired with three general managers from local reclamation districts. Reclamation Districts are relatively unknown to most people, but they are local special district governments responsible for flood control, drainage, and irrigation. They have a long history of providing local public goods to agricultural landowners in California, with many of them dating back to the late 19th century.

Dispatch: Managing Water Without People?

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 05 November 2010

Can you manage water without thinking about people? I went to an eye-opening meeting between UC Davis researchers and many program managers at the California Department of Water Resources. DWR is the main state agency responsible for water supply infrastructure, and they are heavily based in the civil engineering profession. They are also responsible for publishing the California State Water Plan. The meeting was about funding research at UC Davis to help DWR make decisions and do water planning. Among the materials provided at the meeting was a big wish list of projects that UCD researchers might get involved with.

Lab trip to Russell Ranch

By Bethany Cutts - Posted on 01 November 2010

It was a cold and blustery Friday afternoon, but discussion about Russell Ranch as a leading site for social-ecological research on agriculture and agricultural policy proved envigorating. Here are a few pictures from the day. I think the bleak weather comes across very clearly. Thanks to Meredith et al. for organizing. I can't wait for the barn dance poster session.

Research Brief: Sustainability Programs in California Viticulture

By Vicken Hillis - Posted on 01 November 2010

We recently released the second in our series of research briefs from our project investigating sustainability in California viticulture. This brief reports the perceived effectiveness of sustainability programs throughout the state, based on findings from our survey of viticulture outreach professionals and semi-structured interviews of winegrape growers. Take a look at the brief and feel free to provide comments.

Dispatch: effective visualization

By Bethany Cutts - Posted on 01 November 2010

Question of the day: How do you present social network findings to an audience?

I think about this a lot and I encourage you to post positive examples or your own solutions in the "comments" section. Especially after attending a few social network conferences and producing my fair share of circle and line network diagrams. Most of the time, these do little more than demonstrate the researcher's ego (insert bad egonetwork joke here). This is the hallmark "look at all the data I collected!" slide for social network analysis. It is the prettier and more dizzing version of the size 8 font regression table that also appears in many a scientific talk. So, what's the solution? There are many out there, but I think a recent article in SEED magazine (http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/getting_past_the_pie_chart/) presents a good synopsis of the great visualization debate.

Research Brief: Interdisciplinary team prepares to survey ranchers

By Bethany Cutts - Posted on 01 November 2010

Here is a press release I'm preparing for the Farm Bureau and California Cattlemen's to run in advance of our survey (which is getting close to being ready to test!). I would appreciate any comments.

A group of researchers at University of California, Davis is funded by the USDA to conduct cutting edge social and ecological research on rangelands. The project, supported by the California Farm Bureau Federation, California Cattlemen’s Association, and many other groups, aims to understand the many ways in which ranchers manage livestock and lands for multiple goals. This winter, they will be sending a survey to over 1500 ranchers in an effort to understand decision-making.

Defining sustainable agriculture

By Matthew Hoffman - Posted on 23 October 2010

What is the definition of sustainable agriculture? Anyone who takes a few minutes to ponder this question will realize that the answer is not simple or singular. One must consider the complexities of what is to be sustained, for how long, for what or whose benefit, and by which means. To be sure, abstract conceptualizations of sustainable agriculture, such as the Three Es, are useful heuristics. However, when it comes to the actual assessment and implementation of sustainability activities, there is no generalizable definition. Definitions of sustainable, and sustainable systems themselves, are dynamic across the axes of space and time...

Dispatch: Off Trail Again

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 18 October 2010

Science is a group endeavor, and I feel it is important to have lab trips that build a sense of community. But for some strange reason, our lab enjoys straying from hiking trails and bushwacking through rough country to reach our destination. This time we went to Zim Zim falls, which is in the backcountry Blue Oak woodlands around Lake Berryessa. You would think it would be impossible to lose the trail in a fairly well-travelled area, but we managed to do it anyway (I wasn't in front...blameless!!). The nearly continuous drizzle didn't make it any easier when we couldn't find the trail down from a ridge and back into the creek valley. It was easy to see where we needed to go looking into the valley, but hard to crush through all the knee to chest-high, wet vegetation. But we made it after lots of cursing, hollering, and soaked clothing.

Research brief

By Anonymous - Posted on 08 October 2010

I'm investigating perceptions of inequity and the inequity resolution process in a local groundwater user association in Guadalupe Valley, Mexico and Sonoma Valley, California-both prominent viticulture regions. Understanding how inequities factor in to and can be resolved at a local level is critical to assessing the effectiveness of international aid programs that incentivize collaborative and local resource management. The study will contribute to literature that examines Social-Ecological Systems and Integrated Water Resource Management outcomes.

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