Educational Background/Accomplishments

I received my Ph.D. in Political Science from Northern Arizona University with Distinction, conducting research on global environmental politics.  In particular, my Ph.D. work included writing a book with my adviser, Zachary A. Smith, on Ocean Politics and Policy: A handbook with ABC/Clio as well as a dissertation on environmental security testing whether more sustainable countries are more peaceful (answer: the results were inconclusive and could not be generalized, but within a select 142 countries more sustainable countries were 1/2 as likely to be involved in international conflict).

Currently, I am finishing two books:  Sustainability: the Basics (Routlege) and The Power of the Talking Stick: Indigenous Politics and the World Ecological Crisis (a couple different publishers are considering this now- University of Arizona Press and Paradigm Publishers).  This latter book is coauthored with my friend and colleague in Louisiana, Sharon Ridgeway.  I also have been working on a building a new field that integrates marine social science with biophysical sciences, social oceanography.   In all, I currently have published prior to these books, 3 other books:  Environmental Skepticism: Ecology, Power and Public Life (Ashgate, 2009), Globalization and the World Ocean (Alta Mira/Rowman and Littlefield, 2006), and ocean book with Dr. Smith noted above.  I continue to also research the counter-movement behind climate denial, furthering the analysis we did in “The Organization of Denial” published by the journal, Environmental Politics in 2008.   In 2010, I received the UCF Service Learning Award, which comes after my students in Environmental Politics have worked approximately 10,000 hours in the community for the environment as part of their curricular learning of the subject.  Many of my publications can be found at:


Hometown: Oviedo, Fl


What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe that my job is to provide a true foundation in the subject matter, and this involves heavy reading (for example, I favor assigning the most rigorous academic journal articles to not only help student see and evaluate what the literatures indicate, say on climate change, but to help them discern better from less reliable sources) and writing.  Analysis via heavy writing assignments across the semester are critical for students to build context and subtlety that make the finer points of their education meaningful.  Further, I believe that all UCF students should come out of UCF with an articulate ability in writing and speaking about complex theories and ideas.  Bottom line:  I believe in creating difficult but authentic training for UCF students, and I love seeing them rise to the challenge.  As noted above, I also favor using experiential, service learning to expose students to real world conditions for the theories we study.


What courses do you teach?

Over various semesters many are at the graduate and undergraduate levels:

PUP3203 Environmental Politics

PUP4204 Global Environmental Politics

PUP4204 Sustainability

PUP4209 Urban Environmental Policy

CPO4794 Indigenous Politics and the Environment

POS3076 American Indian Politics

POS3258 Politics in Film

IDS303150 Foundations in Environmental Studies

Grad only: INR 6XXX Environmental Security


What is your favorite conservation strategy?

–At home: Composting, reusing material goods via thrift stores and yardsales, scaling down is key to any serious effort for sustainability which has a problem structure that must not be confused with simple “environmentally positive” acts—to be sustainable, we must deal socially with the consumption of critical ecological life support systems that have systemic limits.

–At UCF: Education!

– How do you incorporate the environment and sustainability into your curriculum? Well, in my case, these issues are the classes themselves, so they are central.

What is something most people wouldn’t know about you?

 I loved to play rugby in college (I was a hooker and loose forward), and I wrestled in the NCAA (Division III, Salisbury State).

What advice would you give incoming students?

Several things:

  1. Be  a fully rounded person, develop non-academic skills, like scuba diving, that will allow you to bring multiple dimensions to the problems you will work on in your life (and the schools/jobs you apply for in the future).
  2. Don’t leave UCF without an internship or other experiential learning, it is essential.
  3. Understand that while you need a job when you graduate, it is not the purpose of education.  You have the opportunity to discover, for example, your life’s work which is quite different from what jobs you may hold.
  4. Take this opportunity to think about what you want your life to be about. Be bold and think about your gravestone—what will it say? “He improved productivity for XY company by 5%”?  Or, “She worked her life to relieve the suffering of those worse off.”  Think about fulfillment as an essential part of the pay of any job, because if we think only of economics, we end up smack dab in the mid-life crisis, wondering what our life is about.
  5. Take advantage of the social and intellectual opportunities at UCF that you may not have easy access to later.


 What do you think  must come next to fulfill UCF’s environmentally friendliness/climate neutrality by 2050?

The new power plant is a step in the right direction in the sense that it is made with upfront investment for future self-sufficiency.  If we think of making energy policy here at UCF as moving toward self-sufficiency, it will make sense to a lot of stakeholders and move us toward increasingly small scale and renewable sources.  For example, we might think about the gains we could make in self-sufficiency with attention to roof-top PV, and wind power.  I would also love to see Dining Services make a serious commitment to the Community Garden in the Arboretum (which I personally would like to see remain fully in-tact and not released from conservation easement).  Land use planning will be a key to any serious thinking about carbon neutrality, because the land changes we initiate also provide durable pathways to future consumption and emissions.  A strong commitment, say in the civil engineering of the campus, to bikes and walking provide a cascade of positive effects.