SNRE.Portrait.2My name is James (J.T.) Erbaugh, and I am a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow (Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate) based at Dartmouth College. I study environmental policy and governance.

I am motivated by a passion for the sustainable management of natural resources and a deep respect for communities whose livelihood strategies depend on natural resource management. As a researcher or teacher, I have spent over six years living  in rural, forest-dependent communities on the Navajo Nation (Navajo, NM), Sumatra (Sungai Penuh, Jambi), and Java (Pati, Central Java).  This time shapes how I understand, investigate, and teach environmental policy and governance.

I focus on how groups make rules for the management of natural resources and how those rules effect environmental, social, and economic change. I am particularly interested in the connection between global environmental change and local action. I study this by focusing on community-based resource management, the role of global politics in shaping local environment and development outcomes, and evaluating the impacts of environmental policies. My research draws from institutional economics, political ecology, and causal inference. I am trained in GIS, survey methodology, interview research, and policy content analysis.

The majority of my work focuses on forests and forest proximate people. I use an institutionalist framework to understand different rules of forest use, and techniques of causal inference and applied econometrics to understand how those rules impact people and forest landscapes. I am currently involved in projects that examine how changes in local administrative units affect forest cover, the relationship between forest restoration and the well-being of forest proximate people, and how technological transitions influence forest management.

My research would not be possible without funding. I have received financial support from the National Science Foundation, the World Bank, the Borlaug Fellowship in International Food Security, the Fulbright Program, the Institute for Social Research,  the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Dow Sustainability Fellowship, the Department of Defense Critical Language Scholarship, the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability,  the University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School, the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society, and the Dartmouth College Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies.

Although many generous people, communities, and organizations have contributed their time, expertise, and resources to make my research possible, the opinions expressed on this website are my responsibility alone. If you would like to contact me, please send an email to:


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