The Coweeta Listening Project and Southwestern North Carolina Regional Conservation Groups
Located at the University of Georgia, the Coweeta Listening Project (“CLP”) was established in 2010 to make ecological science more useful and meaningful to the communities of southwestern North Carolina, and to integrate local knowledge with scientific research. The CLP is a branch of the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program, which has conducted groundbreaking research on climate change, land use change, and the forests and watersheds of southern Appalachia since 1980. Given this long presence in the region, the Coweeta LTER could inform local decisions about how to manage natural resources in a dynamic future… but achieving this depends on establishing stronger connections with local landowners, communities, organizations, and decision-makers. The CLP builds on a long tradition of popular education and participatory research in Appalachia, grounding our work in a deep respect for local knowledge, the importance of dialogue, and the integration of research and action. We also believe that the co-production of ecological knowledge—which involves integrating scientific and non-scientific ways of knowing and bridging science and values—will enhance scientific research and make it more useful for addressing environmental concerns. In short, we hope to democratize science so that it is more effective and useful.
Since early 2016, I have contributed to the CLP through participant-observation research/service work in and around Macon County, NC, which has included involvement in stream bio-monitoring and cultural landscape restoration activities with the Mainspring Conservation Trust, a regional organization dedicated to understanding how development pressures are affecting the local environment and focused on addressing this impact through various preservation strategies. I have also worked with the Nantahala Hiking Club, a volunteer organization that maintains hiking trails in the region. I have additionally participated in the Franklin, NC Appalachian Trail Community Council, an advocacy organization working to build local political interest in conservation and recreation related to the nearby Appalachian Trail. Finally, as my colleagues and I have been systematizing the findings of our ethno-ecological research into local non-expert knowledge of climate change, I have begun contributing to the CLP’s mission to facilitate greater knowledge between environmental scientists working in the region and area residents.
The Interdisciplinary Program on Indigenous Indicators of Fauna & Flora
Headquartered at Paris Nanterre University the Interdisciplinary Program on Indigenous Indicators of Fauna & Flora (“PIAF”) is a multidisciplinary and comparative research collective investigating environmental change in four countries on three continents (France, United States, Cameroon and Zimbabwe). The central questions animating PIAF’s research program are:
- (1) how, in the context of environmental change (demographic pressures, climate change, nature conservation policies), are local urban and rural communities (users, as well as managers) developing diagnoses of changes in their immediate environments from of the observation of the state of their biodiversity?
- (2) how do these diagnoses enable these populations to manage or protect their territories’ biodiversity on a day-to-day basis, as well as to devise strategies for coping with perceived environmental changes?
Through the collection of “lay” observational data and citizen-science documentation of climate change and ex-urbanization in southwestern North Carolina, and through the analysis of data collected at other research sites in the southern Appalachians, I have contributed to PIAF understanding of these questions in the U.S. context. Through presentation of research at this past summer’s (2017) PIAF Conference in Toulouse, and through more informal research communication since late 2016, I have additionally contributed to PIAF objectives overall.
The Anthropocene in Mass Media Project
Headed by lead investigator Dr. Leslie Sklair at the London School of Economics, this international research team is investigating the prevalence and character of representations of Anthropocene in global, national, and large-scale regional print media. Having recently begun early in 2017, this emergent project’s key areas of inquiry include the depth of popular engagement with the Anthropocene as a concept, the modes of representation portraying of the Anthropocene to non-expert media consumers, the topical contexts – such as climate change or ‘global warming’ – in which portrayals of the Anthropocene arise, and the various translations of the Anthropocene used by non-English language media.
My contribution to this project has been the investigation of U.S. Southern and Appalachian regional media. I am among four researchers ‘covering’ various U.S. media, and we will be sharing findings early in 2018. After reviewing these findings, the research team as a whole will be mapping a path forward including analysis, presentation of findings, and further more detailed inquiry.
Diversity & Inclusion Project
To be detailed shortly.