Core Faculty



Alastair McIntosh Alastair McIntosh (Scotland) has been described by BBC TV as “one of the world’s leading environmental campaigners.” A pioneer of modern land reform in Scotland, he helped bring the Isle of Eigg into community ownership. On the Isle of Harris, he negotiated withdrawal of the world’s biggest cement company (Lafarge) from a devastating “superquarry” plan, then agreed to serve (unpaid) on that company’s Sustainability Stakeholders Panel for 10 years. Alastair guest lectures at military staff colleges, most notably the UK Defence Academy, on nonviolence. His books include Soil and Soul: People versus Corporate Power (Aurum), Hell and High Water: Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition (Birlinn), Rekindling Community (Green Books) and Spiritual Activism: Leadership as Service (due in September, Green Books). He is a fellow of the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh and a visiting professor at the College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow.
Ashish Kothari Ashish Kothari (India) is founder-member of Indian environmental group Kalpavriksh. Ashish has taught at the Indian Institute of Public Administration. He coordinated India’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan process, has served on Greenpeace’s International and India Boards, and been on the steering committee of commissions of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). He was a member of the Government of India Committee on Implementation of the Forest Rights Act. He has been active in civil society movements relating to destructive development, conservation, and natural resource rights. Ashish is the author or editor (singly or jointly with others) of over 30 books; the latest, Churning the Earth: The Making of Global India with Aseem Shrivastava, exposes the devastating impacts of economic globalisation and presents an alternative framework for human well-being.
Bram Buscher Bram Büscher (Netherlands) is Associate Professor of Environment and Sustainable Development at the Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University, the Netherlands, and visiting Associate Professor at the Department of Geography, Environmental Management and Energy Studies of the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. His research interests revolve around transfrontier conservation and conservation / development interventions, green neoliberalism / capitalism, (eco)tourism, social media and the political economy of energy. In 2011, he received a prestigious NWO (Dutch Scientific Research Organization) Veni grant for a research project entitled ‘Nature 2.0: The Political Economy of Conservation in Online and Southern African Environments’. Since 2012, Bram is one of the editors of the open-access journal Conservation & Society and a forthcoming book series with the University of Arizona Press on Vital Alternatives Critical Engagements with the New Green Economy and its Alternatives.
Carolyn Finney Carolyn Finney (U.S.A.) is a professor at the University of Kentucky. As a geographer, she explores how issues of difference impact participation in decision- making processes designed to address environmental issues. The aim of her work is to develop greater cultural competency within environmental organizations and institutions, challenge media outlets on their representation of difference, and increase awareness of how privilege shapes who gets to speak to environmental issues and determine policy and action. Along with public speaking and consulting, she serves as Chair of the Relevancy Committee on the U.S. National Parks Advisory Board that is working to assist the National Park Service in engaging in relations of reciprocity with diverse communities. Her first book, Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors was released in 2014 (UNC Press). 
Eda Elif Tibet Eda Elif Tibet (Turkey) is an independent documentary filmmaker and a visual anthropologist who mostly films and produces her own films on local livelihood rights and social justice. Through her award-winning film ‘Amchi’ (2013) on Tibetan healers, Eda was named most inspiring filmmaker of the year by the Jakarta Film Festival (2014). Her film ‘Hey Goat!’ (2014) on nomadic pastoralists of Turkey has been screened at the History Museum of Geneva and received the jury prize at Slovakia’s International Festival of Sustainable Development Films. Her latest musical documentary ‘Refugee Here I Am’ (April 2015) is directed with Enzo Ikah, a Congolese musician and refugee himself. This documentary has premiered in cinemas in Turkey and is currently touring the world intending to create dialogue between the displaced and the authorities in charge. Eda holds a MPhil in Social Anthropology from the University of Kent (UK). Whilst completing her doctorate at Bern University in Switzerland, she currently works as a researcher on a Swiss National Science Foundation funded visual anthropology research project documenting unaccompanied minor refugees in Turkey and their biographies on education. She continues filming and producing her own films under her label, Tibetto Productions.
Elizabeth Rahman Elizabeth Rahman (UK/Spain), a social and medical anthropologist, is a Postdoctoral Associate of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Oxford and tutor for the Department of Continuing Education. Elizabeth specializes in hands-on, indigenous and applied techniques that cultivate mindfulness in diverse environmental and climatic settings, with a special focus on Amazonia and rural Spain (Canary Islands). Her doctoral research ‘Made by Artful Practice: Reproduction, Health and the Perinatal Period among Xié River Dwellers of North-Western Brazil’ (2014) examined the repertoire of hands-on perinatal techniques used by the Warekena of tropical Brazil (north-western Amazonia) and how these are used to make particular types of mindful and healthy people adept at living in such an environment. Elizabeth is currently interested in applying biosocial anthropological research to promote wellbeing and sustainability – as part of the curriculum and through outdoor pedagogic approaches – in primary, secondary and tertiary education. She is a native English speaker and also speaks French, Spanish, Portuguese and lingua geral (Amazonian lingua franca).
Emily Caruso Emily Caruso (Italy) completed her PhD in anthropology at the University of Kent (UK) in January 2012. She carried out her research – funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) – among the Ashaninka, an indigenous Amazonian people living in Eastern Peru. It explored the relationship between their concepts of selfhood and alterity, and their modes of relating with the nation-state, conservation and development projects, and NGOs. She has a particular interest in the practices and politics of formal conservation interventions, community-based conservation, and the mutual, affective relationships that exist between people and places. Since 2002, she has worked with various international NGOs supporting indigenous and forest peoples’ rights, and since 2007, she has accompanied Ashaninka federations in their daily operations and broader political struggles. Emily is a native English speaker, and fluent in Italian, French and Spanish.
Emily Ryan Emily Ryan (U.S.A.), MSc, is an independent transformative educator and facilitator. She works collaboratively with organizations and individuals to design and deliver unique learning journeys for communities of people all over the world. The goal of each offering is to empower participants to reconnect to their ecological identity by providing information, guidance and support. This is done through holistic, experiential practices that honor and encourage all ways of knowing, particularly the desire to return to a wholehearted, authentic state of being that experiences the primacy of interconnectivity. Emily works with organizations such as the Global Diversity Foundation, Bioneers, Schumacher College, Women’s Earth Alliance, and the Pachamama Alliance.
Gary Martin Gary Martin (France), the Director of the Global Diversity Foundation, has been involved in conservation and ethnobotanical work for over thirty years. He has engaged in applied research and training in more than forty-five countries. After studying botany as an undergraduate, he received his MA and PhD in anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley. From 1998 – 2011, Gary was a research fellow and lecturer at the School of Anthropology and Conservation of the University of Kent in Canterbury, UK. Between 2010-2012, he was a Carson Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Society and Environment in Munich, Germany. Since 2011, he has been the Director of the Global Environments Summer Academy and is the creator of the incipient Global Environments Network. He is a native speaker of English, speaks Spanish and French, and is learning Moroccan Arabic.
InancTekguc Inanc Tekguc (Cyprus) finished his MA in Visual Anthropology at the University of Kent, UK in 2010, where he found himself drawn to discussions about climate change, sustainable development, eco-tourism and conflict between conservation projects and local communities. He has been interested in using his academic training as a tool to explore the relationship between humans, other species and their shared ecosystems. Setting this interest as a background, Inanc wishes to improve his photography skills and work with like-minded colleagues. Ever since he joined GESA in 2011 as a student participant, he has felt at home among friends and has kept his involvement in the subsequent courses. He is very excited about seeing the GESA family grow.
Bioneers 2014 Joshua Sheridan Fouts (U.S.A.) is a globally recognized media innovator and social entrepreneur known for his visionary work paving new inroads for meaningful understanding between cultures. He is currently Executive Director of Bioneers, a 26-year-old NGO focused on movement building and vanguard social justice and science solutions for people and planet. A cultural anthropologist by training, Joshua has worked in both film and the arts. He began his career in Washington, DC in the 1990s where he worked at the US State Department and began to experiment with new ways to use radio, television and Internet technology for cultural collaboration. He went on to launch two first-of-their-kind think tanks focused on digital media innovation and cultural relations at the USC Annenberg School in Los Angeles where he founded the first-ever blog about digital journalism and later created a new master’s degree in public diplomacy. Joshua spent his formative years doing chimpanzee sign language research in his parents’ primatology studies. During his 20-plus years career in education, international and cultural relations, Joshua has personally worked with the peoples of Malaysia, Africa, and indigenous tribes of the Amazon and Canada. He is fluent in Portuguese (Brazilian) and English.
Michel Pimbert Michel Pimbert is currently the Director of the Centre for Agroecology and Food Security (CAFS) at Coventry University and a Fellow at the Rachel Carson Centre for Environment and Society (RCC). After doing his first degree in Ecology at the University of Liverpool, Michel obtained his Doctorate of Sciences at the University Francois Rabelais of Tours (France). Dr Pimbert began his career as an agro-ecologist doing research and training on ecological pest management in small farming systems. After first holding a lecturers’ position at the University Francois Rabelais de Tours, he worked as Principal Scientist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in India. Michel then moved into policy research when he became head of the Biodiversity Program of the International Secretariat of the World Wide Fund for Nature in 1992. Michel was a member of the College of Directors of WWF Switzerland before joining the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) in 1999, where he coordinated the Agroecology and Food Sovereignty program until June 2012.
 Octaviana V. Trujillo Octaviana V. Trujillo (U.S.A.) is a professor of Applied Indigenous Studies at Northern Arizona University. She has been involved with indigenous community development and empowerment initiatives throughout her career and has also facilitated international learning experiences for students, She served as Fulbright Faculty for the US State Department for their Indigenous Student Leadership Development Seminar in Sololá, Guatemala and in Caracas, Venezuela. She was consultant to the Ford Foundation Indigenous Issues Committee study for determining the intervention of the Ford Foundation in relation to global indigenous communities, and expert panelist for the Organization of American States and UN-Human Rights Commission, Seminario Internacional, Autonomías Indígenas: Experiencias y Aprendizajes de los Pueblos y los Estados de América Latina in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. She currently serves on the President’s Advisory Circle for First Nations, University of Winnipeg, Canada and as Chairperson of the EPA National Advisory Committee on NAFTA.
Peter Messerli Peter Messerli (Switzerland) is the director of the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) of the University of Bern. As a geographer specialized in inter- and transdisciplinarity, his research interests lie in the sustainable development of socio-ecological systems in Africa and Asia. He thereby focuses on increasingly globalized and distant driving forces of rural transformation processes and their spatial manifestations in the Global South.
Rajindra Puri Rajindra Puri (U.K.) is a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Anthropology, the Director of the Centre for Biocultural Diversity, and the convenor of the MSc in Ethnobotany, all in the School of Anthropology and Conservation at the University of Kent in Canterbury. His academic training is in cultural and ecological anthropology (BA Middlebury College; MA, PhD University of Hawaii). Before going to Kent in 2000, he was an Affiliate Fellow at the International Institute of Asian Studies in Leiden, a postdoctoral researcher at CIFOR and the East-West Center, and a consultant researcher for WWF, WCS UNESCO, among others, primarily in Indonesia. His primary teaching and research interests are in human-environment relationships, local and traditional ecological knowledge, conservation social science methods, tropical forest environments, and climate change adaptation among the indigenous peoples of South and Southeast Asia. He is the author of Deadly Dances in the Bornean Rainforest (KITLV Press), The Bulungan Ethnobiology Handbook (CIFOR), and a co-editor of Ethnobotany in the New Europe (Berghahn Books).
Ruth Krause Ruth Krause (Germany) is a Visual Anthropologist and Journalist based in Berlin. She sees video as a powerful tool for participating in public discourses and putting topics on the agenda that otherwise would not be heard. For her MA-thesis she explored the relationship between Human Rights defenders and victims of the armed conflict in Colombia. After graduating from the University of Kent in 2009, she started working for several German TV stations as a reporter and videojournalist. She is now mainly reporting for Deutsche Welle, the German international broadcaster, where she covers topics related to globalization, biodiversity, international youth politics and economics. She joined GESA in 2012 and enjoys the inspiring atmosphere and meeting like-minded people.
Sarah-Lan Mathez-Stiefel Sarah-Lan Mathez-Stiefel (Switzerland) is a geographer and ethnobiologist with extensive working experience in Latin America and Eastern and Southern Africa. She holds a PhD in Human Geography from the University of Bern, Switzerland and is currently carrying out a post-doctoral study on local knowledge, gender and agroforestry in the Peruvian Andes at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). Presently a Senior Research Scientist at the Centre for Development and Environment of the University of Bern, she has over ten years of experience in the leadership of international cooperation programs involving research institutions, NGOs, and community-based organizations. Since 2010, she has been actively involved in the NGO sector, first as Executive Director and then as Director of Science and Conservation, at A Rocha Peru, a Peruvian environmental non-profit organization, part of the global network of A Rocha International, which engages in community-based conservation, scientific research, and environmental education. Her professional interests focus on sustainable development and natural resource management, indigenous environmental knowledge, social-ecological resilience, and social learning processes.
Stephan Rist Stephan Rist works as lecturer in Human Geography and heads the Cluster Governance of Land and Natural Resources at the Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern. He is Co-leader of Research Project 13 of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South on the transformation of agrarian systems. He holds a PhD in sociology from the Technical University of Munich, Germany, and habilitated at the University of Bern, Switzerland. Rist also directs a research project entitled “Governance of Forest Multiple Outcomes in Bolivian Lowlands: Reconciling Livelihoods, Biodiversity Conservation and Carbon Sequestration” of the Swiss National Science Foundation’s Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS) and is project leader of the interdisciplinary research project on “Sustainable Soil Governance and Large Scale Land Acquisitions originating in Switzerland”.
Susannah McCandless Susannah McCandless (U.S.A.) is a geographer and political ecologist who completed her PhD at Clark University in Massachusetts, USA in 2010. Her fieldwork in the U.S. and Latin America focuses on questions of conservation of privately-held land and the possibility that it may function as a commons; and how gender, race, and ethnicity affect rights of access and movement. She has taught human geography at the University of Vermont, environmental studies at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, and worked formally and informally with organizations focused on land reform, community forestry, ethnobiology, environmental justice, and migrant farmworkers. Raised in Vermont, USA, Susannah is interested in the critical intersections between viable landscapes and just human livelihoods. Susannah is a native speaker of English, and also speaks Spanish and French.
Thomas Thornton Thomas Thornton, as director for the MSc in Environmental Change and Management at the Environmental Change Institute (ECI), oversees the course and teaches various options and modules. In addition, he is a senior research fellow at the ECI. His academic training is in social and cultural anthropology (BA Swarthmore College; MA, PhD University of Washington). Before going to Oxford in 2008, he taught at Portland State University, Trinity College, Saint Lawrence University, the University of Alaska, and Beijing Normal University (Fulbright Lectureship). He also worked in government as an environmental resource specialist and as a consultant to Native American tribes.His primary teaching and research interests are in human ecology, adaptation, local and traditional ecological knowledge, conservation, coastal and marine environments, conceptualizations of space and place, and the political ecology of resource management among the indigenous peoples of North America and the circumpolar North.


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