Institute at Brown for Environment and SocietyIBES

Institutions and Human Behavior

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
Scott Frickel

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.


Scott Frickel

Director of Graduate Studies, IBES
Professor of Sociology

Environment-society interactions, Experts and knowledge/ignorance, Social movements, Social theory, Risk and disaster, Urbanization

Lint Barrage

Assistant Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies

Environmental and public economics, Policy design and analysis, Climate change, Integrated assessment climate-economy modeling

Andrew Foster

Professor of Economics
Director of the Population Studies and Training Center

Voluntary certification, Scale economies, Intergenerational economic mobility

Richard Locke

Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs

Globalization and labor standards, Sustainability, Global supply chains

Lenore Manderson

Visiting Professor of Environmental Studies

Medical anthropology, Environmental changes on infectious disease, Social determinants, Social aspects of biodiversity

J. Timmons Roberts

Ittleson Professor of Environmental Studies
Professor of Sociology
Climate and Development Lab 

Climate change policy, Environmental social science, UNFCCC, Climate justice

Siri Veland

Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies (Research)

Global environmental change, Indigenous issues, Risk perception, Climate change policy

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