Dr. Janelle Knox-Hayes
Janelle holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Policy and Doctoral degree in Economic Geography from the University of Oxford. Her research revolves around the political economy of environmental management. She has conducted extensive research in the United States, Europe and the Asia-Pacific on the use of market mechanisms to govern climate change. In addition to empirical studies, the project explores a theoretical investigation of the nature of resource valuation. Janelle argues that economic systems have not been designed to adequately account for the spatial and temporal materiality of the natural world. In particular, economic mechanisms like emissions markets are built from theories of exchange value. To adequately assess natural capital, theories of use value are needed. Attuned with her interest in valuation, she also examines the ways in which social and cultural values shape environmental policy in different regions. In the spring of 2016 Janelle will reside in Iceland on a Fulbright fellowship to examine the influence of cultural values on decision-making and policy with respect to sustainable development in the Arctic. The project is designed to investigate the dynamic tensions of sustainable development at the interface of culture and political economy. It will examine the meanings and practices of sustainability as they are mediated through initiatives that operate across global and local scales. Through in-depth fieldwork, interviews, surveys and GIS visualization, Janelle will study how cultural, political and economic institutions influence concepts and processes of sustainability. One of the goals of the study is to identify core values of sustainable development as well as potential bridge concepts, terms that bridge scientific rational and normative value. Bridge concepts are essential to the creation of new metrics of valuation. Using surveys and GIS techniques, these concepts will then be compared across socio demographic characteristics and geographically mapped. By addressing the transmission and syncretic internalization of sustainability within cultural context, the project provides a basis for building flexibility into international environmental discourses and agreements as well as a path towards the creation of more sustainable mechanisms of valuation.