Sara E. Alexander, PhD

Professor and TIEEES Fellow
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Research in Progress

My current research centers on human responses to climate and other environmental changes. In Belize, I am involved in research examining how farmers and ranchers of varied ethnic backgrounds are currently (and in the past) responding to environmental changes, specifically in reference to water management for their agricultural production and how this plays out in terms of food and nutritional security and effects on their health status. I also recently completed a two-year field study (funded by NOAA) in several coastal communities in the Meso-American Barrier Reef System to examine resilience of vulnerable households to climate-related events and shocks. These data are being used to develop a household-level Resiliency Index. The project continues fieldwork this year to facilitate new coalitions within and outside communities to identify linkages that could be enhanced to increase resilience at household and community levels. Roughly half way around the world, a colleague of mine and I are also working in the Republic of Georgia to explore linkages between the seemingly disparate goals of resource conservation, protection of cultural diversity, and the development of a tourism industry. I continue to interview west Texas wheat farmers to document their awareness and knowledge of climate change and corresponding adjustments they may be making in their farming systems as a colleague of mine and I are working on an edited volume titled, Farming the Future: Challenges, Innovations, and Farmer Responses to a Rapidly Changing World (UNP).

I also serve as a consultant for a number of NGOs including TANGO (Technical Assistance NGO) International, Save the Children, CARE, World Vision, and the World Food Programme on various programs and projects over the last twenty years. I recently completed a review of CARE’s new Rapid Environmental Assessment method and am currently writing Guidelines for WFP addressing sustainability issues around food aid programming for the use of food aid to address impacts of HIV/AIDS in eastern and southern Africa.

Degrees

PhD in Applied Social Anthropology, University of Kentucky, 1987

MA in Applied Social Anthropology, University of Kentucky, 1983

BA in German, Foreign Service, Baylor University, 1979

Teaching

My approach to teaching includes an active inclusion of research experiences and "real world" scenarios in my classroom. Because experience with contemporary scientific techniques and development of critical thinking skills is not facilitated by rote memorization, I organize my courses using both lecture and discussion/seminar formats to foster effective critical analysis as well as oral and written communication skills. Given that most of my courses are cross-listed and therefore taken by students from many disciplines across campus, I am able to draw from a variety of fields both within and outside of anthropology and science in general. I believe this approach also encourages the student’s curiosity, facilitates learning, and ultimately makes the material more accessible and interesting.

When possible, I encourage/require students to work with local and regional organizations to learn how anthropology can be used to address “real world” problems, even in their own local communities. In the Fall, 2017, my Applied Anthropology class conducted a Baseline Assessment of the north Waco neighborhood for Mission Waco’s food desert project that involved Jubilee Market. The intent is to provide Mission Waco with baseline information they can use 10 years down the road to document the impact the project is having on food security in that part of Waco. I also work locally with World Hunger Relief, Inc. training center and the Seeds of Hope project.

Every year, I individually mentor a select number of students who are integrated into a research lab setting where they ultimately present their research at the SFAA national meetings and/or at Baylor’s Scholars Week held every Spring. I also mentor undergraduate Honors theses and serve on both Masters and Dissertation Committees from a number of disciplines, most recently, Communications, Environmental Science, Sociology, and Journalism, and the TIEEES program.

Global Environmental Leadership Program in Hong Kong

I am one faculty member of four at Baylor who are participating in a three-year education and research program in collaboration with four universities in Hong Kong where Hong Kong Baptist University serves as the lead institution. This exchange program is organized where Baylor faculty and students travel to Hong Kong in Dec/Jan for a two-week intensive course on a range of environmental topics and issues. In the summers, students and faculty from Hong Kong (and some neighboring countries) travel to Baylor for an exchange two-week intensive course. Both portions of the course involve exciting and educational field trips designed to illustrate first-hand the material learned in the classroom. When the Baylor team travels to Hong Kong in December, the lectures I provide for this program include: An Introduction to Culture Ecology, The Basics of World Food Problems, Social Science Models of Sustainable Development, Human Dimensions of Climate Change, and Weathering Climate Shocks in Central America.

Recent Publications

Gibson, Jane W. and Sara E. Alexander, eds. 2019. In Defense of Farmers: The Future of Agriculture in the Shadow of Corporate Power. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press.

Alexander, Sara E. 2019. “Weathering the Challenges of Climate Change for Wheat Farmers in West Texas. In In Defense of Farmers: The Future of Agriculture in the Shadow of Corporate Power. Jane W. Gibson and Sara E. Alexander, eds., Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press.

Alexander, Sara E. and Michael Long. 2019. “The Juxtaposition of Cultural Identity and Tourism Development Among the Svan in Upper Svaneti, Georgia,” In Europe in the Caucasus, the Caucasus in Europe: Bridging Political and Academic Gaps,” Andrey Makarychev and Thomas Kruessmann, eds. Stuttgart: Ibidem Verlag.

Alexander, Sara E. 2017. Vulnerability and Tourism Development: Fostering the Capacity of Resilience in the Context of Climate Change. In Responses to Disasters and Climate Change: Understanding Vulnerability and Fostering Resilience, Michèle L. Companion and Miriam S. Chaiken, eds. Boca Raton: FL: CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, pgs. 195-205.

Neupane, Ram P., Joseph D. White, Sara E. Alexander. 2015. Projected hydrologic changes in monsoon-dominated Himalaya Mountain basins with changing climate and deforestation. Journal of Hydrology 525(2015): 216-230.

Frankenberger, Tim, Monica Mueller, Tom Spangler, Sara Alexander. 2013. Community Resilience: Conceptual Framework and Measurement, Feeding the Future Learning Agenda. Washington D.C.: USAID, Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative.

Frankenberger, Timothy R and Sara E. Alexander. 2010. FAO Corporate Strategy on Information Systems for Food and Nutritional Security (ISFNS). Rome: FAO.

Alexander, Sara E. 2008. The Resilience of Vulnerable Households: Adjusting to a Newly Constructed Ecotourism in the Aftermath of Hurricane Iris. In Capitalizing on Catastrophe: The Globalization of Disaster Assistance, Nandini Gunewardena and Mark Schuller, eds. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, pgs. 93-113.

Frankenberger, Timothy R., Sara E. Alexander and Tom Spangler. 2008. Integrated Food Security Phase Classification: Technical and Institutional Support for the Development of a Global Multi-agency Approach to Food Security Classification. Rome: FAO FP, March.

Frankenberger, Timothy R. and Sara E. Alexander. 2008. Experiences Regarding Government Partnerships and Hand-over Strategies: Challenges, Best Practices and Recommendations. Rome: World Food Programme.

Guizzardi, Sylvia, Tim Frankenberger, Sara Alexander, John Meyers and John Mazzeo. 2007. Food Assistance Programming in the Context of HIV. Joint publication by United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Academy for Educational Development (AED) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).