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Environmental scholar to discuss field study in Bhutan

October 19, 2012

Environmental scholar to discuss field study in Bhutan

October 19, 2012

RobinRobin Sears, vice president for academic affairs at the School for Field Studies (SFS), will discuss "Optimize your gross happiness: Study abroad! Environmental field studies in Bhutan and other exciting places" on Wednesday, Oct. 24.

The presentation begins at 7 p.m. in Filene Recital Hall. Skidmore's Environmental Studies Program is a sponsor of the event.

Sears will discuss aspects of the Bhutan environment that she has researched, including community forestry initiatives, vulnerability to glacial lake outburst flooding, sustainable development, and using an environmental study abroad placement to see how the world really works.

A graduate of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where she earned a B.S. degree in botany and undertook a SFS placement in Ecuador for one summer, Sears earned a master's degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a Ph.D. in ecology, evolution, and environmental biology at Columbia University.

Her research interests center on forests and people, specifically how rural households utilize forests for subsistence and livelihood goals. Since 1997 she has worked mainly on the floodplain landscapes of Amazonia, and her doctoral work was on the natural history of a floodplain specialist tree that is managed in agricultural systems. She has worked on questions related to timber production in smallholder farming systems, and the policy and regulatory conditions that allow for rural producers' legal engagement in timber markets.

She is also interested in educational research, and specifically on how learning occurs in field-based settings. Sears has published widely on her research in a number of academic journals and books.

Sears joined the SFS head office in 2007 as dean. Prior to that she served on the SFS board for four years, and long before that was an SFS student.  She said, "The SFS course set me on a path to work in the Neotropics, where I have been working ever since. I conducted ethnobotanical research in Mexico, Costa Rica and Ecuador. At Yale FES my interest shifted to forest resource management, and I have been working on small-scale forest production systems with smallholder farmers in Amazonia since 1997."

She has received a number of honors including a 2007 Fulbright award for teaching and research in Peru and a 2006-07 Tinker Foundation Institutional Grant for "A Household Forestry Program for Ucayali Province (Peru)." 

Click here to learn more about SFS.

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