SDEP Director: Jesse Ribot
Administrative Support: Clarissa Gentzler

News and Announcements

Publication of RFGI Working Papers

Most of the RFGI Working Papers have been published and are up on our website. A few of the remaining papers to come!

The Responsive Forest Governance Initiative (RFGI) is an Africa-wide comparative environmental governance research and training Programme of CODESRIA, IUCN and the University of Illinois. RFGI focuses on enabling responsive and accountable decentralization in forestry to strengthen representation of forest-based rural populations within local-government decision making. RFGI aims to enhance and help institutionalize widespread responsive and accountable local governance processes that reduce vulnerability, enhance local wellbeing, and improve forest management.

UPCOMING EVENT : ICARUS V Conference, Hyderabad (30 June-2 July 2016)

The 5th International Conference of The Initiative on Climate Adaptation Research and Understanding through the Social Sciences (ICARUS), in collaboration with the Indian School of Business, will be held at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, India, from Thursday, June 30 to Saturday, July 2, 2016. The conference will focus on three central themes: i) diversity in relation to livelihood security; ii) networks of social and political relationships through which citizens gain access to resources and benefits from multiple state agencies; and, iii) the social and institutional dimensions of technology in relation to vulnerability to climate risks. Please check the conference website for more details or write to for any questions and clarifications.


Farce of the Commons: Humor, Irony, and Subordination through a Camera's Lens

"Writing research into drama, telling, directing, acting, filming and re-seeing magnifies contours of history and power that are not yet easily visible to the naked eye. Through magnification,
everyday moments of domination become unreal, absurd, and yet believable. They are made

SDEP Paving the Way for Environmental Justice

"SDEP has already built an influential and global foundation that will continually impact social and environmental policy. In the next two years, SDEP will focus on new collaborations, with sustained student engagement and more partnerships across campus and with Beckman faculty, in hopes of sparking broader multidisciplinary engagements at the University of Illinois."

New Visiting Scholars

Photo of Bernadette Montanari

Bernadette Montanari, Visiting SDEP Scholar September 2015 - September 2017

Dr. Bernadette Montanari is an ethnobiologist and ethnobotanist. She has worked mainly with aromatic and medicinal plants and traditional ecological knowledge with Berber communities in the High Atlas of Morocco. Her work has focused on: top-down governance guidelines, community development through social enterprise and traditional ecological knowledge. Dr. Montanari was recently awarded a Marie-Curie Sklodowska Global Fellowship (2015-2018), funded by the EU. She will explore whether women are able to gain social status and economic development through applying their traditional ecological knowledge in the context of the Green Morocco Plan. Her study is policy-relevant and aims to establish the gender dimension more prominently in government and donor policies and programmes so as to improve the working conditions of rural women in Morocco. She will spend two years at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a year at the International Institute of Social Sciences in the Netherlands when returning to Europe.

Lecture Videos

Diana Liverman, Professor of Geography and Development, University of Arizona: "New narratives of environment and development: imagining and governing carbon offsets and climate adaptation" (Sep 23, 2011)

Paul Robbins, Professor of Geography and Development, University of Arizona: "Producing Wildlife: Informal Management and Undemocratic Sustainability in India's Conservation Lands" (Nov 12, 2010)

Leo Zulu, Assistant Professor of Geography, Michigan State University: "Arrested Democracy: Decentralized Environmental Governance, Sustainable Livelihoods and Environmental Policy in Africa -- the Case of Malawi" (Oct 29, 2010)

SDEP Lecture Series

Climate and Society Speaker Series (2009-2010)

Democracy and Environment Speaker Series (2010-2011)

Occupy Nature Speaker Series (2012-2013)

Critical Inequalities Seminar Series (2013-2014)

Risk in a Changing World Speaker Series (2014-2015)

The speaker series for 2015-16 and 2016-17 will not be ‘thematic’. During this period we will bring in topical speakers co-sponsored with other units on campus. Themes we are currently developing for 2017-19 and 2018-19 include “Climate Stress and the Social Causes of Migration” and “Climate Modeling: The Built-in Ethics of Causality.”