Human Ecology and Environment

A view of the cityscape looking out of a cavern

Our faculty has a long history of research in environmental issues, whether through archaeological/historical analyses, or modern analyses on how populations cope with climate change. For example, Dr. Sara Alexander has studied how members of coastal communities in Belize respond to climate-related events or shocks. At the household level, her team has measured levels of relative vulnerability and created a Resilience Index to examine specific responses and coping strategies to climate-related disturbances. Additional research in the western interior region of Belize focuses on awareness and level of understanding of climate change on the part of managers and owners of tourism businesses with the main objective to identify factors that affect decision-making of those working in the tourism industry (which depends on ideal climate conditions) relative to changing weather patterns. Additional research on farmers in West Texas examines their understanding of climate change along with perceptions of risk relative to impacts on wheat production, and in Appalachia in the Red River Gorge Geological Area of Kentucky to document changes in management policies and how this progression has impacted all major stakeholder groups, including local residents, wilderness recreationists, the US Forest Service as well as a number of state and local agencies.

A waterfall in the rainforest