Today @ Colorado State has been replaced by SOURCE. This site exists as an archive of Today @ Colorado State stories between January 1, 2009 and September 8, 2014.

Environment / Sustainability

Anthropologists explore climate change

January 19, 2012

Anthropologists are emerging as key observers in the effects of climate change on the sustainability of global populations, an important issue at the forefront of research across many disciplines.

In response to these climate change issues, a new Global Climate Change Task Force has been developed to help increase communication, provide a forum for engagement and highlight anthropological contributions to climate change policy. Kathleen Galvin, CSU professor of anthropology and senior research scientist at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, has been invited by the president of the American Anthropological Association, or AAA, to sit on the task force with nine other members. She is the only one from CSU in the group. Galvin also serves as associate director for Education at the School of Environmental Sustainability.

“I’m looking forward to working with the other members of the task force to let other professional organizations such as the Ecological Society of America know about the work that anthropologists do in climate change;" Galvin said. "We are also tasked to promote engagement of the AAA with public policy agendas to reach beyond the discipline.

“This is a very exciting opportunity for me as my current research centers on climate change and its effects on people and the environment in the drylands of Africa and Asia, and I currently work with scientists in several other disciplines.”

Boosting interdisciplinary research

Objectives of the Climate Change Task Force are to help further interdisciplinary research and to identify and detail the various contributions the field of anthropology brings to the study of climate change and related issues. The task force is charged with helping to promote a better understanding of adaptation through research and an in-depth analysis of vulnerability, resilience and other factors influencing global climate change. Additionally, the task force will work to encourage discourse and further research at associated institutions in an effort to advance understanding of the socio and cultural systems that are at the root of energy consumption.

Kathleen Galvin, professor of anthropology and senior research scientist at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory.

By engaging local people, translating and accounting their observations and concerns, the task force will further communicate issues of climate change to the media and to the general population. This increase in public interest will serve to promote anthropological contributions and generate connections with key researchers in other disciplines and institutions.

Research on a global scale

Trained as a biological anthropologist, Galvin has conducted interdisciplinary human ecological research in Africa for the past 20 years. Her research focuses on issues of African pastoral land use, conservation, climate variability and resilience and adaptation strategies of these populations and explores the dynamics of the coupled natural and human system of the Greater Serengeti Ecosystem. She also is an advising faculty member for the Department of Sociology and the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology at CSU.

Galvin has been a member of a National Academy of Science/National Research Council group to assess “Research Needs and Modes of Support for the Human Dimensions of Global Change.” She served on the National Science Foundation, Cultural Anthropology Program Panel. She was an Aldo Leopold Fellow in 2001.

The AAA task force will be led by Shirley Fiske of the University of Maryland and include nine other contributors from various disciplines and backgrounds.