HELLO AND WELCOME. This is the website for Dr. Pamela McElwee, Associate Professor in the Department of Human Ecology in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. I am an interdisciplinary environmental scientist, with a joint Ph.D. in anthropology and forestry, with additional training in geography & ecology.
ON THIS SITE you will find links to my publications, syllabi from courses I have taught at Rutgers and Arizona State, and additional information about my work. I was recently awarded an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship for work on my second book Rivers of Blood, Mountains of Bone: An Environmental History of the Vietnam War in spring 2019 and will be on research leave for the 2019-2020 year.
My first book Forests are Gold: Trees, People, and Environmental Rule in Vietnam, was recently honored by the European Association for Southeast Asian Studies (EUROSEAS) as the best book on Southeast Asia in the social sciences, as well as shortlisted for the best book on Asia in the social sciences division by the International Convention of Asian Scholars.
If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about opportunities to study with me at Rutgers, please send me an email.
MY INTERESTS are in the local social impacts of global environmental problems, with my particular expertise in biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services, climate change and economic development. I primarily do fieldwork in Vietnam, and use field methods ranging from quantitative household surveys to qualitative interviews to forest mensuration and botanical sampling to study ecologically critical regions, such as tropical forests and coastal estuaries. Most of my work integrates household-level analysis of decision-making regarding resource use with an examination of global institutional practices and norms that influence environmental management.
MY RESEARCH aims to identify why people conduct certain resource use practices in different ecosystems, particularly in the context of rapid environmental change, and the ways in which these global environmental changes may in turn render some communities more vulnerable or impoverished. I am also interested in what the distributional and welfare consequences of environmental policies are; do some policies make poor people more impoverished, or conflict with cultural norms, while others achieve more equitable balances? I accomplish this research through intensive fieldwork to collect fine-grained data that helps identify social and physical trends. You can read more about my current research projects here.
MY MAJOR AREAS of research and teaching interests include: globalization and natural resource use; ecosystem services and financialization; forest conservation in the tropics; gender and the environment; socio-economics of biodiversity conservation; protected areas management; participation and decentralization in natural resources management; indigenous peoples and the environment; adaptation to climate change and natural hazards; policy tools for climate change mitigation in developing countries; international poverty, environment and development nexus; and environmental security and environmental impacts of war and conflict.
MY SCIENCE-POLICY WORK has recently involved serving as a lead author for chapter 6 on governance of biodiversity for the Global Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), and as a lead author for chapter 6 on integrated response options in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on Climate Change and Land: an IPCC Special Report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems. I attended the Paris Plenary for IPBES in May 2019 and the Geneva Plenary for IPCC in August 2019 to adopt these reports, and media quotes about this work can be found on my media page. The best way to contact me for interviews is email.