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NSF Funds Research on Indigenous Efforts to Mitigate Environmental Impacts

Professor Todd Eisenstadt

Professor Todd Eisenstadt

Todd Eisenstadt, professor of government at the School of Public Affairs and a faculty associate in the Center for Environmental Policy, has received National Science Foundation funding to begin a multi-year project researching the factors that lead individuals in indigenous communities to collectively protect a public good. The project emerged, in part, out of Eisenstadt's award-winning 2011 book Politics, Identity, and Mexico's Indigenous Rights Movements (Cambridge University Press). While in Mexico, he directed a survey of thousands of indigenous and non-indigenous community members, and found that local forms of administration and property rights shaped citizens' attitudes toward communal versus individual rights.

Eisenstadt will research poor, rural indigenous communities in Ecuador to understand how they overcome socioeconomic and geographic barriers to launch new forms of social movements relying on Western science and international collaboration. In contrast to the post-materialist argument that environmental issues concern only the relatively affluent, Eisenstadt and Karleen West of West Virginia University argue that immediate threats to community livelihoods may provide material incentives for poor communities to come together to mitigate environmental impacts. The project is supported by CEDATOS (Centro de Estudios y Datos), Ecuador's premier survey company, and Professor Mario Melo, director of the Catholic University of Ecuador (PUCE) Human Rights Clinic and a litigator of indigenous environmental rights at international fora, including the Interamerican Court of Human Rights.

For more information, contact Dave DeFusco, ddefusco@american.edu.