Visiting Assistant Professor of Forestry
Prior to joining the faculty at Hampshire, Robin was engaged in field research and policy analysis contributing to the forest sector reform in Peru. Before that she served as chief academic officer at The School for Field Studies, an environmental study abroad program.
Her research focuses on the forest management and timber production systems of smallholder farmers. Her current geographic focus is Amazonia and Bhutan. Her research is deeply rooted in field work and is based on long-term engagement with farmers and other actors in the forestry sector. In this interdisciplinary research she and her colleagues use mixed methods, including interviews, participatory workshops, and forest mensuration techniques.
Her teaching interests include forest ecology and management, the intersection of science and policy, ecological and policy dynamics at the farm-forestry interface, and field research methods.
Forests comprise a major component of the New England landscape, and in much of the world. How do we know our forests, how do we treat them? We will look through blended lenses of ecology and social science, resource management and the humanities to gain an appreciation for the complexities and nuances of the forest as a socio-ecological system and cultural icon. Through reading, writing, discussion and field work, students will discover our cultural connections to forests, characterize forests by their structure and species composition, and design a long-term monitoring plan for the Hampshire Forest. Required outdoor activities include field trips and field work (yes, even in the cold) and at least one weekend camping trip. Considerable reading and writing are required for this course.
Students will construct a foundation of knowledge in plant structure and function (morphology and physiology). We will look briefly at plant evolution and then apply all of this to understand plant taxonomy: the identification, naming and classification of plants. In labs, we will focus on plant morphology and identification. All students will conduct a research project on some aspect of plants, and students at the 300-level will each conduct an independent study on a frontier in plant biology and lead a tutorial on the subject.
In this course, we will look at forest management systems around the world, from commercial forestry in government reserves in Bhutan to fallow forestry by smallholder farmers in the Amazon, any many others in between. We will look at these as socio-ecological systems, considering the ecology in the systems and the socio-economic factors and drivers of policy and management decisions. In the labs, we will take an in-depth look at forest management in the Northeast US and conduct fieldwork to contribute to the Hampshire College Forest Stewardship Plan.
How does the structure and composition of forests shift over time and across events, and how does this affect forest function? In this largely field-based course, we will construct an understanding of the core concepts of forest ecology, consider a diversity of forest management goals, and conduct research for management applications. In the field, students will practice an array of methods to address research questions in local forested landscapes. Plant identification will be a component of this course. Student learning will be assessed based on demonstration of the application of ecological knowledge to management challenges through engagement in the classroom and field activities, and completion of a forest research project.
Amazonia: a vast, complex, and conflicted region of South America. What roles do the Amazon forests and rivers play in local, regional and global ecology? Who governs this vast region that touches nine nations? What is at stake in its destruction? Who lives there, and why do they stay? We will explore the region from multiple perspectives, looking at science, policy, culture and conservation. Developing an understanding of tropical rainforest ecology, basin hydrology, and forest function (and multiple ways of understanding these) will be coupled with considerations of the role of culture, policy and conservation in shaping this region today. Our inquiry will be largely based in readings, film and discussion. Considerable writing, both analytical and reflective, will be expected.