The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Governance Conference: Research and Practice

June 08, 2018

The Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior and the Department of Water Resources organized a conference to connect researchers and practitioners working on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in California. The conference was held on February 6th, 2018 at the University of California Davis and assembled 55 social science researchers as well as practitioners from in and out of the state.

What do affiliates do? A round up of recent activity

November 20, 2017

CEPB has a number of affiliated faculty who make occasional appearances at lab meetings or contribute sporadically to the email listserve conversations.  It might be difficult to tell from those interactions with the lab alone, what it is that we do.  In response to that question, here's a short list of some of the issues that I and the other members of the Quantitative Biology & Epdemiology Lab have been working on this year.  These are all on-going projects.

Policy Brief: Citizen Perceptions of Sea-Level Rise

September 17, 2017


Our new policy brief reports some initial results from a household survey of SF Bay residents regarding their perceptions of sea-level rise and floodrisks, as it relates to various types of political behavior such as voting for Measure AA. 


The Governance Gap: New Report on Adapting to Sea-Level Rise in SF Bay

June 27, 2017

As part of our NSF project on sea-level rise adaptation, I am very happy to officially release the final version of our report on governance challenges in the SF Bay Area.  This report summarizes the results of an extensive study of governance for climate adaptation and sea-level rise in the SF Bay Area, where the concept of sea-level rise adaptation also includes coastal flooding from high tides and extreme storm events. We focus on the “governance gap” that exists between the problem of sea-level rise and the implementation of adaptation solutions that increase resilience.

Polycentric Governance: A Concept Searching for a Theory

April 13, 2017

I have just returned from the 2017 meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, where David Konisky kindly provided comments on our paper led by Jack Mewhirter (you can find the paper on the MPSA paper repository, which sadly is gated….), which demonstrated the existence of “negative institutional externalities” in the context of polycentric governance institutions.

Trump’s Silver Lining: Make Environmental Infrastructure Great Again?

January 02, 2017

There are many reasons to be dismayed about the outlook for environmental policy under the Trump administration. His potential appointees to the Environmental Protection Agency, and Departments of Agriculture, Interior, and Energy not exactly environmental advocates. These political appointees will lead efforts to roll back many of the environmental initiatives of the Obama administration, although they may encounter resistance from career civil servants in management positions.

How much reductionism?

November 07, 2016

The question of being pro- or anti-reductionist came up briefly in a recent lab meeting.  This is a re-hash of a piece I wrote a few years ago in response to a research funding allocation question that touches on that subject.  It relates to a question that was being posed by the government Agriculture/Environment department which supported much of the work I did back then.  The specific example is in the context of designing a science program to address a policy question, but I think the method may be useful at the start of the design process for any new program of research.

An Ode to the Benefits of Messy Environmental Policy

September 08, 2016

Ramiro Berardo and I recently published a new article on the structure of polycentric and complex governance systems for water management (sorry for the gated links…but see key figure inserted in this blog, where policy actors are circles, venues squares, and links represent participation).  We have been working on this project for a number of years, driven by the reality that most environmental governance arrangements involve many different actors participating in multiple policy venues, and working

useR! talk on teaching R

July 05, 2016

Here is a video recording of my talk from useR! 2016 on teaching R. It’s nominally about teaching a lot of students in an intensive format, but I think almost everything translates to traditional classes. If for whatever reason this video isn’t working out for you, here is the source.

This talk was just one in a great session. I’d highly recommend:

A Shiny app to help interpret GW-Degree estimates in ERGMs

June 26, 2016

Most researchers are misinterpreting geometrically weighted degree (GWD) estimates in exponential random graph models (ERGMs) of networks. By a 3:1 ratio papers cite positive estimates of GWD as indicative of a popularity or centralization force; in fact, positive estimates indicate dispersion of edges.

Participatory Learning Games for Social-Ecological Systems

March 17, 2016

How can a simple game represent a complex social-ecological system?  For the last few years, I have taught a graduate class on social-ecological systems (SES) that introduces SES concepts and frameworks along with delving into a number of related topics in environmental social science. A core activity of the class involves student groups choosing SES case studies, and applying the course topics from a particular week to the case study.