Environmental and Social Sustainability Lab
Human Dimensions of Environment
Complexity in Human, Natural and Engineered Systems
I am an environmental social scientist with an interdisciplinary background and a foundation in evolutionary theories of human behavior. My goal is to make a small contribution to our understanding of what a more sustainable world might look like and how we can get there – and more recently to apply insights from cultural evolution theory to this effort. To that end, I integrate concepts and methods from evolutionary anthropology, institutional economics, psychology, and sociology, and other disciplines to study biodiversity conservation, sustainable development, environmental behavior, and sustainable consumption at multiple scales of human organization. More specifically, I have the following broad and overlapping interest areas, which you can learn more about on my website:
1). When and why do biodiversity conservation programs ‘succeed’ or fail (and what are the challenges of defining and measuring ‘success’ and ‘failure’)? How do political, social, cultural, economic, and ecological conditions relate to project outcomes and processes?
2). How do sustainable common pool resource management institutions emerge and evolve? Why are some communities able to manage resources sustainably and what happens as these communities and/or resources change over time?
3). When and why are conservation behaviors and sustainable consumption patterns are adopted by individuals? What are the social dynamics that facilitate or hinder the adoption of sustainable practices/behaviors and what are the mechanisms by which such behaviors spread?
4). What is the relationship between sustainable consumption and well-being? Which behaviors or consumption patterns can both enhance well-being and reduce environmental impacts? When are there tradeoffs between reducing one’s ecological footprint and improving one’s well-being? How do features of the built environment and the social environment relate to synergies and tradeoffs between well-being and sustainability?
Selected publications that represent these areas of interest:
Brooks, J.S., Reyes-Garcia, V. and Burnside, W. forthcoming. Re-examining Balinese Subaks through the lens of cultural multilevel selection. Sustainability Science. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11625-017-0453-1?wt_mc=Internal.Event.1.SEM.ArticleAuthorOnlineFirst
Brooks, J.S. 2017. Project age and design features contribute to joint success in ecological, economic, and social outcomes of community-based conservation projects. Conservation Letters. 10(1): 23-32. DOI: 10.1111/conl.1223.
Brooks, J.S. and C. Wilson. 2015. The influence of contextual cues on the perceived status of consumption-reducing behavior. Ecological Economics. 117. 108-117.
Waring, T.M., Kline, M.A., Brooks, J.S., Goff, S.H., Gowdy, J. ,Janssen, M.A., Smaldino, P.E., and J. Jacquet. 2015. A multi-level evolutionary framework for sustainability analysis. Ecology & Society. 20(2): 34. URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol20/iss2/art34/
Brooks, J.S. 2013. Avoiding the limits to growth: gross national happiness in Bhutan as a model for sustainable development. Sustainability. 5: 3640-3664. URL: http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/5/9/3640
Brooks, J.S., Waylen, K., and M. Borgerhoff Mulder. 2012. How national context, project design, and local community characteristics influence success in community-based conservation projects. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109(52): 21265-21270.
Brooks, J.S. 2010. The economic and social dimensions of environmental behavior: balancing conservation and development in Bhutan. Conservation Biology. 24: 1499-1509.
Brooks, J.S. 2010. The Buddha mushroom: conservation behavior and the development of institutions in Bhutan. Ecological Economics. 60: 779-795.
Brooks, J.S, Franzen, M., Borgerhoff Mulder, M., Holmes, C., and M. Grote. 2006. Testing hypotheses for the success of different conservation strategies. Conservation Biology. 20:1528-1538.
ENR 5480 – International Conservation and Local Peoples
ENR 2500 – Introduction to Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability
ENR 4567 – Assessing Sustainability: Project Experience (EEDS Capstone)
ENR 8400 – Human Dimensions of Ecosystem Management
ENR 2367 – Communicating Environment and Natural Resources Information