My research focuses on the interaction of cognitive, institutional, and ecological processes to understand collective action problems. I study these interactions to understand the conditions for sustainable outcomes in various applications in the past, present and future, and from local to global scales.
I am a social scientist with a background in mathematics. I use computational models, such as agent-based models, in combination with laboratory and field experiments, surveys, case study analysis, and stakeholder workshops. To address my research questions.I have worked on quite a number of topics as you can see from my publications, all related to the field of collective action.
The National Science Foundation of the USA funds most of my research since 2004. Prior to that I was funded by the European Union, the Swedish Research Council, and the Resilience Alliance. Currently I work on the following topics:
Water, energy and food systems are increasingly interconnected. To meet sustainability targets transitions in those systems are needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, provide sufficient clean fresh water, and nutritious food. A transition of the physical infrastructure will require changes in behavior, norms and regulations, but the dynamics of the physical infrastructure and human behavior are not synced. We are developing models combining insights from the social science and engineering to explore transition pathways that are socially just and enable robustness of water, energy and food systems in the long term. This work is partly based on my participation in two NSF projects: One on water governance of Mexico city (PI Eakin) and one on resilience of water-
There have been anecdotes that field experiments on commons dilemmas in communities have led to behavioral changes. In a led by International Food Policy Research Institute we are testing whether performing field experiments on crop choice and groundwater together with a community wide debriefing lead to a measurable change in ground water use. The experiments are done in India and Colombia. The potential outcome is a practical tool for NGOs to stimulate behavioral change.
There is an increase in the use of computational models, such as agent-
Since 2005 I have been using virtual environments to test hypotheses on commons dilemmas. Two projects are ongoing. One is a NSF funded grant led by Dan deCaro from the University of Louisville. In this project we will measure how people perceive the process of the experiment with different types of communication in order to derive a better understanding why communication is so effective in avoiding the tragedy of the commons.
A second project is led by Marty Anderies and is part of the Behavior, Economics and Nature Network (BENN) of the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics. The virtual spatial explicit environment of dynamic shared resources is used in collaboration with neuro scientists to understand how emotions are trigger in the experiments and play a role in the outcomes.
Lakes are microcosms of social-ecological systems. Lakes are subject to many different and conflicting uses and lake associations are groups of residents who volunteer to solve collective action problems related to the multiple uses of lakes. I am a co-PI on a $1.5 million grant of the National Science Foundation among 5 academic institutions to study the interactions between lakes, people and fish. My focus will be the governance of lakes by lake associations and the development of an agent-based model to explore how information about resources affect the dynamics between lakes, people and fish.
As part of ASU’s Interplanetary Initiative, CBIE is involved in exploring the challenges related to shared resource governance for a future colony on Mars. A game is in the process to be developed that will enable us to rehearse the future of a Port of Mars. This game is intended to be used to study the collective action challenges when human kind might colonize Mars.
How did our ancestors organize themselves to collect food, hunt and derive raw materials for tools? Together with Kim Hill, Curtis Marean and various others, I am developing an agent-
As part of a led by Marty Anderies I perform experiments in the lab and the field (Colombia, Thailand, Nepal, and India) to understand what attributes of small-