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Amanda Cravens

[photo] Amanda Cravens headshot
Title:PhD Candidate
Primary Affiliation:Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment & Resources
Other Affiliations:E-IPER, Center for Ocean Solutions, Social Ecology Lab Group
Office Location:Y2E2 226

Biographical Information

I study how individual values and attitudes translate into society’s environmental decisions about the use of public lands or natural resources. More broadly, I am interested in how groups of people think, learn, and make decisions together.  My interdisciplinary research agenda sits at the intersection of law, psychology and the learning sciences, focusing on the processes and mechanisms we use to make environmental decisions. Some of my specific interests include social learning in collaborative governance, how problem definition influences decision-making, the appropriate role for information technology in collaborative processes, and  methods for evaluating tools and processes. A similar desire to encourage interdisciplinary conversations motivates my teaching. I am particularly interested in using experiential scenarios and field-based courses to inspire students to consider contentious resource management issues from a range of perspectives.

My current research and teaching interests combine my past academic and professional experiences. I was originally trained as a geographer and environmental historian with particular interests in how multiple understandings of places were recognized or erased by policy decisions about using those places. I graduated from Swarthmore College with a B.A. with High Honors and later earned an M.A. with Distinction from the University of Canterbury. My graduate study in Christchurch, New Zealand, was supported by a Fulbright Fellowship. I have also worked professionally as an information architect, project manager, and web editor for think-tank Resources for the Future and environmental consultancy SustainAbility. Through my professional work, I became interested in the role of information technology in influencing environmental decisions.

The geographical focus of my work is the American West, including California where I am now based and Colorado where I grew up.  My dissertation research is focusing on MarineMap, a tool used to site marine protected areas along the California coast. I am explaining how the tool aided participants' thinking, learning, and decision-making during the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative process for which it was designed. In addition to my research activities while at Stanford, I have been training as a mediator and currently serve as a volunteer mediator for the city of Palo Alto. Eventually, I plan to work as a multi-party mediator and facilitator somewhere in the intermountain West.

Public lands and waters are important to me not only because of my research interests, but also because of my hobbies. When I’m not working, I can usually be found in the mountains or out on the river kayaking.

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