My research investigates how the contestation, negotiation and learning that occurs among actors at the global and local levels determines policy responses to environmental challenges like climate change and ecosystem destruction, both domestically and internationally. This agenda is driven by three questions. First, when states fail to address a global problem like climate change, either through multilateral agreements or national laws, why and how are actions nonetheless taken on the ground? Second, how does the interaction among global, national, and local actors determine the success of governance reform attempts? Third, how do ideas regarding the best way to tackle global problems, and the structures for implementing these ideas, evolve? To answer these questions, I examine how authority is structured and exercised in new, experimental global governance arrangements; how national and local systems intersect with and push against these global structures; how power is distributed and flows within transnational governance networks; the politics of creating collaborative, multi-level governance arrangements; norm contestation and evolution; and ecological economics. I am particularly interested in how these issues shape the politics and policies relating to climate change and sustainable development. Learn more about my current research projects or download a detailed research statement.


Grassroots Global Governance: Local Watershed Management Experiments and the Evolution of Sustainable Development (Oxford University Press, 2017), shows how when international agreements fail to solve global problems like climate change, transnational networks attempt to address them by implementing “global ideas”—policies and best practices negotiated at the global level—locally around the world. Using integrated watershed management as a lens, the book explains why some efforts succeed and others fail, and why implementing these “global ideas” locally causes them to evolve at the international level. In doing so, the book highlights the key role played by grassroots actors and reveals the grassroots level as an important but often overlooked terrain where global governance is constructed. Learn more here.

Select Articles and Book Chapters:

“How Emerging Counter Norms Strengthen: Lessons from Ecuador’s Rights of Nature Lawsuits,” World Development, Forthcoming (with Pamela Martin).

Pursuing Costly Reform: The Case of Ecuadorian Natural Resource ManagementLatin American Research Review, Vol. 51, No. 4, 2016, 163-185 (with Will Terry).

Assessing the impact of international conservation aid on deforestation in sub-Saharan Africa,” Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 10, 2015 (with Matthew Bare and Daniel C. Miller.

Scaling up Buen Vivir: Globalizing Local Environmental Governance from Ecuador,” Global Environmental Politics, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2014, 40-58 (with Pamela Martin).

Financing Watershed Conservation: Lessons from Ecuador’s Evolving Water Trust Funds,” Agricultural Water Management, Vol. 145, November, 2014, 39-49.

The evolution of water trust funds in Ecuador,” in Sustainable Irrigation and Drainage: Management, Technologies and Policies, edited by Henning Bjorlund, Carlos A. Brebbia, and Sarah Wheeler. Southampton, UK: Wessex Institute of Technology Press, 2012 (with Marta Echavarría).

Democratization,” in Encyclopedia of Political Theory, edited by Mark Bevir. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2010.