This specialization developed out of research over the past half-century that demonstrated that the human dimensions–that is, the social, cultural, political, economic, behavioral, and historic aspects-of the environment are critical to wise stewardship and ultimately sustainability. Human actions underlie the majority of environmental changes, and current global environmental change will affect a majority of human populations.
The rise of disciplines in the last century separated the social and the bio-physical into two different academic realms, when in fact they are inseparably connected. Knowing the actual interconnections among them is essential to finding enduring solutions to environmental problems. “Management” requires a genuine interdisciplinary (an explicitly, systematic, self aware) approach to environmental problem solving. This specialization attends to the often neglected social context and its dynamics of our work. In the final analysis, this specialization is about integration via interdisciplinarity and application. It rests on a strong foundation of work by a great many social scientists, the experience of diverse practitioners and it offers invaluable theory and methods to address wide-ranging problems.
Research in this area spans a range of geographic and societal scales and interactions, from individuals and local communities and their use of regional resources to the ways that such local systems are entwined with extra-local, national, and global markets, politics, governance, institutions, and ideologies. This specialization is also distinguished by a critical approach to orthodox conservation and development models and bureaucratic management, which entails the study of policy institutions and structures of power, and the nature/culture divide. Many of the students in this specialization carry out grant-funded research and/or work during the summer after their first year, in many cases internationally, drawing on excellent on-campus financial sources for this. Thus, the first year is spent in part in preparing for this research, and the second year is spent analyzing and writing up field data, and examining its implications, ideally for publication. For other students, the summer after the first year is devoted to internships with domestic or international organizations.
This specialization prepares student for jobs in the public and private sectors as well as for further work in academia. Many of our students have gone on to doctoral programs in such fields as anthropology, geography, sociology, political science, and the policy sciences, as well as environmental studies, at major schools such as Cornell, Columbia, Stanford, U.C. Berkeley, Oxford, and Cambridge. Some of our graduates have been awarded prestigious post-graduate fellowships such as the Fox Fellowship and White House Management Fellowships. The majority of our students find jobs in prominent NGOs working on conservation and development issues requiring understanding of social dynamics and integrative solutions to problems. The NGOs that employee our MEM students range from small and local NGOs across the U.S. such as the Rocky Mountain Institute or the California Food and Justice Coalition, to large international ones such as CI, CIFOR, WWF, UNICEF, Forest Trends. And people work in the international NGOs in the DC headquarters as well as throughout the developing world.
The “tracks” outlined below represent illustrative foci that students with particular thematic interests might develop and follow in consultation with her/his advisor. The design of a thematic ‘track’, therefore, is intended to guide the student in selecting courses from the ‘topics’ presented in the foregoing section, while drawing student attention to other relevant F&ES specializations and curricula elsewhere at Yale.
Faculty Coordinator: Michael Dove
Specialization Faculty: Robert Bailis, Carol Carpenter, Ben Cashore, Susan Clark, Amity Doolittle, Paul Draghi, Gordon Geballe, John Grim, Karen Hébert, Karen Seto, Kalyanakrishnan ‘Shivi’ Sivaramakrishnan, Mary-Evelyn Tucker, and Harvey Weiss.