Betsy Beymer-Farris Furman University

The integration of ecology with environmental politics and global economic development lies at the core of Dr. Beymer-Farris’s research. She is a political ecologist who draws heavily from the literatures of social-ecological resilience, environmental history, political economy, feminist theories, and global commodity chains. With more than 13 years of experience working in Tanzania, she conducts research on “sustainably utilized” landscapes, (re)conceptualizing social-ecological resilience, human rights, carbon forestry, and marine and forestry biodiversity conservation. Dr. Beymer-Farris was recently awarded a “Visiting Associate Professorship” in the Department of International Environment and Development Studies at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Aas, Norway. Together with a Norwegian and Tanzanian research team, Dr. Beymer-Farris secured a five-year, 3.2 million dollar g rant, for a project titled “Vulnerability, Resilience, Rights and Responsibilities: Capacity Building on Climate Change in Relation to Coastal Resources, Gender, and Governance in Coastal Tanzania and Zanzibar”. Dr. Beymer-Farris draws heavily from her interdisciplinary and international research agenda for her teaching in Sustainability Science. She is passionate about her close working relationships with students at Furman University who serve as her inspiration both in and outside the classroom. Dr. Beymer-Farris' ongoing research in Tanzania has allowed her to coordinate and supervise students wishing to conduct undergraduate research in Tanzania. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Mangrove Action Project and is a long-time member of the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) and the American Association of Geographers (AAG).

Name Title Description


Resilience & Adaptation

How social change shapes the environment and how environmental change shapes society. Adaptation" and "vulnerability" concepts compared and contrasted through social-ecological resilience and political ecology approaches. Case studies from the developed and developing world will illustrate the utility of these concepts for pressing environmental issues such as global climate change."


Sustainability Science

Introduction to the concepts of sustainability science and the complex problems associated with sustainability. In particular students will examine the challenge of supporting nine billion people without destroying the planetary resource base, social cohesion, and integrity of the individual. Labs will cover introduction to methods in sustainability.


Social Systems

An overview of how comparative cultures conceptualize sustainability and the ways in which the actors, institutions, and policies at all scales (e.g., local, regional, national) shape societal well-being. Connections to the global environmental and human systems are emphasized and explored.

  • Beymer-Farris, B.A., and T.J. Bassett (in-press, August 2013) “Environmental narratives and politics in Tanzania's Rufiji Delta: a reply to Burgess, et al.” Global Environmental Change.
  • Beymer-Farris, B.A. (in-press, August 2013) “Rethinking resilience through a political ecology lens: producing biodiversity in Tanzania’s mangrove forests?” Chapter 10 in Land change science, and political ecology and sustainability: synergies and divergences, C. Brannstrom and J.M. Vadjunec (eds.). Oxford, UK: Earthscan Publications.
  • Bryceson, I. and B.A. Beymer-Farris. (in-press, 2013) “Marine protected areas in developing countries: do they contribute to contribute to or detract from social-ecological resilience?” Chapter 10 in Marine protected areas in relation to fisheries management: challenges and experiences from developing countries. Zanzibar, Tanzania: WIOMSA Book Series.
  • Beymer-Farris, B., T.J. Bassett, and I. Bryceson. (2012). “Promises and pitfalls of adaptive management in resilience thinking: the lens of political ecology.” Chapter 15 in T. Plieninger and C. Bieling (eds.) Resilience and the cultural landscape: understanding and managing change in human-shaped environments. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Beymer-Farris, B.A., and T.J. Bassett. “The REDD menace: resurgent
    protectionism in Tanzania’s mangrove forests.” Special issue in Global Environmental Change, Adding insult to injury: climate change, social stratification, and the inequities of intervention, E. Marino and J. Ribot (eds.), 22, no. 2 (2012).
  • Bryceson, I. and B.A. Beymer-Farris. (2011). “Main challenges for coastal aquaculture development in the WIO region: who are the winners and losers?” Chapter 1 in Main challenges for coastal aquaculture development in the WIO region: who are the winners and losers, M. Troell, et al. (eds.). Zanzibar, Tanzania: WIOMSA Book Series.

Dr. Beymer-Farris conducts research in Tanzania on human-environmental dynamics of development issues related to global climate change, biodiversity conservation, and global commodity chains for forestry, fisheries, and aquaculture. In addition to Dr. Beymer-Farris’s long-standing research in Tanzania, she has a vibrant undergraduate research program. With funding provided by the Furman Advantage Grant Program, many of her students have had the opportunity to travel with Dr. Beymer-Farris to Tanzania to conduct joint fieldwork. To date, she has advised nine research projects in coastal Tanzania and South Carolina on sustainable agriculture, environmental histories of superfund sites, sustainable seafood and ethical commodities, and issues related to access, use, and management of marine protected areas.

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