School of Economics
Sustainability Solutions Initiative
University of Maine
Faculty Expert Guide available.
What problem/s are you working to solve?
I am working on the question of human cooperation: How does it work, when does it occur, and how is it important in determining sustainability? I study human cooperation across a broad range of scales and issues, from environmental management in India (for my PhD research) to cooperation in micro-society experiments in the laboratory, to survey and social-network research. I am developing and adapting quantitative experimental methods to measure cooperation to better fit with a solutions-focused project in which local stakeholders build cooperative relationships over time.
What progress are you making toward solutions?
I am currently leading an SSI seminar series, and starting a community-solutions leaders seminar series with the goal of sharing insights and experiences between academics and the broader Maine community. I am also working to improve SSI’s theoretical models of socio-ecological systems to help solutions-focused groups better project their desires into future scenarios, and pull them back into concrete choices that affect our lives and our environments in Maine today.
How could your findings contribute to a more sustainable future in Maine and beyond?
I hope that my new experimental tools become part of an increasingly streamlined process for identifying, developing, and achieving community-university sustainability solutions. I also hope that my theoretical work on the evolutionary dynamics of socio-ecological systems helps to change the way that academics think about sustainability, making our projections more realistic, our hypotheses more testable, and effective and appropriate action more certain.
Why did you decide to join SSI?
SSI is the perfect integration of my interests and passions. I study human cooperation in environmental affairs, but I also am driven to make progress on the same issues before we have achieved scientific certitude. SSI allows me to make progress towards sustainability and conduct science on sustainability all at the same time.
What’s the best part about collaborating on SSI research projects?
SSI is just packed with wonderful, hardworking, intelligent, and passionate people.
Where’s your favorite place in Maine?
The Stillwater river at dawn, in late fall after a frost, as the light hits the maples and releases a rainfall of color.
What’s your ultimate Maine experience?
See mud season survival strategy, below.
Mud season survival strategy?
Take the kids outside, dig for salamanders in cold streams, mess around with sticks and dirt and logs in the forest. Build fairy houses. Pretend outside. Get muddy.
What sustains you?
My wife and children.
Image Description: Tim_Waring