The Institutions and Human Behavior group seeks to use the tools of social and behavioral science, inclusive of survey design, participant observation, and archival research, to develop an understanding of how individuals perceive and respond to environmental conditions, and how individual responses are linked across space and time through social, economic, cultural and political institutions. Research in this area examine such issues as the effects of conditional transfers, credit access, transport costs, and input spillovers on land use; the effects of water markets, physical infrastructure, and pricing on water utilization, the effects of transportation, industrial composition, and voluntary certification on air quality; and the roles of social movements, macroeconomic considerations, expert networks and in the formation of local, national, and international environmental policy.
Featured Faculty Research
Industrial Sites and the Hazardous Legacies Project
The Hazardous Legacies Project investigates the dynamics of “relict” industrial site accumulation and its impacts on urbanization. In Portland, Oregon, hazardous industrial sites have accumulated rapidly and unevenly across the city since the 1950s. The vast majority of these former facilities are not operating industrial sites today, and only 7% have ever been reviewed by state and local environmental agencies. These findings correspond with data from other cities and raise important questions about the historic load of urban industrial contaminants, environmental health, and social justice.
Brown University graduate and undergraduate students are replicating this study in Providence, Rhode Island and extending the research to include a complimentary focus on urban green space.