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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Reluctant Collectivism?

By Neil McRoberts - Posted on 14 July 2011

This is a cross-posting from the Cubelab blog at UC Davis (http://sites.google.com/site/cubelabsite/home/cube-lab-blog)

A couple of years ago purely by chance I picked up a second hand copy of "Social Limits to Growth" by the late Sir Fred Hirsch in a charity shop (= goodwill store). Hirsch wrote the book in the early 1970's (it was published in 1976 and Hirsch died two years later at the tragically young age of 46) and, as far as I can tell, it hasn't been widely cited by subsequent economists. Hirsch attempted to analyze a set of three connected problems which, as he saw it, laid bare the mostly unspoken (but widely felt) notion that economic growth did not deliver the happiness it promised (see footnote). The last of the three problems was what Hirsch called the reluctant collectivism; the almost grudging acceptance that individual actions cannot always achieve what is best for all individuals together.

What does this have to do with plant disease epidemiology?

Commentary: The Founding Fathers in Defense of Social Science

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 07 July 2011

Certain members of Congress continue their attacks on social sciences within federal agencies, including attempts to remove funding from the social and behavioral sciences division of the National Science Foundation. Their main argument is that social sciences are not as useful to society as the "hard sciences". I won't belabor the fact here that many of the social sciences are just as technically sophisticated as natural sciences and engineering, but are dealing with much more unpredictable forces. Instead, I would point out the we need to look no further than the founding fathers of the United States and the drafters of the Constitution to find social science usefully at work.

Dispatch from the 17th International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM)

By Kelly Garbach - Posted on 09 June 2011

The theme for this week’s meeting in Madison, WI was Integrating Conservation and Sustainable Living. The conference was a great venue for presenting interdisciplinary work, and there was a strong contingent of advanced level grad students and post-docs that presented outstanding papers, in addition to those presented by faculty. Our paper [Garbach & Lubell] entitled “ Linking Diffusion of Innovation and Conservation of Ecosystem Services” was well-received in the panel on Ecosystem Services (ES) in Rangeland and Agricultural Systems; you can see further details in the abstract online: http://www.issrm2011madison.iasnr.org/abstractdisp_popup.php?useprikey=Y...

Commentary: Coburn strikes again...

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 02 June 2011

My erstwhile colleague Meredith Niles beat me to the punch on this one. But surely the bastion of rational thought exemplified by the "Under the Microscope" report deserves additional commentary!

Senator Coburn supports his recommendation to eliminate the social sciences from the National Science Foundation with the following example: "But do any of these social studies represent obvious national priorities that deserve a cut of the same pie as astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth science, physics, and oceanography? The recent tragedy in Japan highlights the importance of nearly all of these natural sciences and how a better understanding of each can improve our abilities to protect life and property from natural occurrences such as earthquakes and tsunamis."

Commentary: Senator Coburn calls social science research a "waste"

By Meredith Niles - Posted on 02 June 2011

On May 26, Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, released a report titled, " The National Science Foundation Under the Microscope" in which he detailed his perspective on wasteful government funding at the National Science Foundation. In his Press Release, Senator Coburn notes, "Investing in innovation and discovery can transform our lives, advance our understanding of the world and create new jobs." Yet, he spend the majority of the report singling out particular social, behavioral and economic research projects and grants that he considers to be "wasteful". Senator Coburn even goes so far to recommend, "Eliminate NSF’s Social, Behavioral, and Economics (SBE) Directorate ($255 million in FY 2010). The social sciences should not be the focus of our premier basic scientific research agency."

Dispatch: Lessons Learned at Integrated Regional Water Management Conference

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 28 May 2011

I spent all day Tuesday and most of the day Wednesday at the conference for Integrated Regional Water Management Planning sponsored by the Water Education Foundation . I was invited to participate as a panelist on the future of IRWMP in California, in particular what criteria we should use to evaluate success. The invitation was stimulated by a paper that I wrote on a pilot study of the Bay Area IRWMP, which pointed out the challenges of IRWMP and suggested that the Bay Area had only made incremental changes from water politics as usual.

Should California have a Water Czar?

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 20 May 2011

Should California have a Water Czar? Everybody would agree that California water management is complex and chaotic with many different actors making decisions in many different policy venues, often ignoring how their welfare is interdependent, and therefore missing out on opportunities for mutual gains and avoiding mutual costs. For the last two decades in California, along with many other places in the US and internationally, the solution to this chaos was the implementation of collaborative watershed management, or integrated regional water management, or whatever synonym you prefer. The theory is that by getting all the stakeholders together to jointly make water management decisions, they are able to recognize interdependence and make mutually benficial decisions. "Getting better together", "the greatest good, for the greatest number, for the longest time", "co-equal goals", and all that.

Defining sustainable viticulture from the practitioner perspective

By Matthew Hoffman - Posted on 14 April 2011

The Center's sustainable viticulture research group has recently published an article exploring how viticulture practitioners define sustainable agriculture. The article, in the viticulture industry journal Practical Winery and Vineyard, is available as a PDF here.

Sustainability is a central topic of discussion in the viticulture and wine industry. But what is the definition of sustainable agriculture? More important, how can definitions be practically used to help solve the very real problems facing modern agriculture?

Defining sustainability is a challenge, because agricultural systems are complex and dynamic, and involve many stakeholders with different goals and values. For this reason, the question: “What is the definition of sustainable agriculture?” can lead to too much ideological debate and too little action. All the while, agriculture is faced with many economic insecurities, ecological challenges, and social inequities that demand immediate attention.

Attend April 6 (Today!): Ending Childhood Lead Poisoning -Understanding Health through Community, Environment, and Policy

By Bethany Cutts - Posted on 06 April 2011

4-6 pm
Wednesday, April 6
UC Sacramento Center 1130 K Street, Suite LL 22 Sacramento, CA
Light refreshments will be served at the panel and a no-host happy hour will follow at Pyramid Alehouse, Brewery & Restaurant, 1029 K Street Sacramento, CA 95814

Despite dramatic decline in the average blood lead levels of children, lead toxicity continues to be a threat. Lead persists in the environment and is present in older homes and the surrounding soils. In addition, the burden of elevated blood lead levels is not equally distributed; some communities have lead poisoning rates of 15-20% while the national average is below 2%. Finally, blood lead levels below 10 micrograms per deciliter, the current CDC level of concern, have been associated with substantial decrements in children's learning abilities and elevated risks for behavioral problems, such as ADHD and conduct disorder.

Pan

Research Review: Agenda setting articles and their approaches to couplings, complexity, and a functional diversity.

By Bethany Cutts - Posted on 17 March 2011

After a few weeks of hearing practice job talks and learning about visiting scholar Karin Ingold’s work, the folks associated with the Center for Environmental Behavior and Policy discussed two articles of suggested by Kelly Garabach. Both the Liu et al. (2007) and Diaz et al. (2011) articles were short articles that we classified as most useful in their ability to contribute to ‘agenda setting’ in research related to social-ecological systems. Due to illness, Kelly was not present to lead the discussion however, I was pleased to later learn that she had intended the discussion to center around the utility of agenda setting papers and their relevance to the way our lab frames its research interests and priorities. As a group, we talked about the ability of both frameworks to appropriately embody social-ecological research questions and the challenges of collaborative research in all its disciplinary forms.

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