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Article

Geography and International Studies: The Foundations  

Ron Johnston

The discipline of geography is built around four key concepts—environment, place, space, and scale—that form a matrix for exploring and appreciating many aspects of contemporary society. The environment is the ultimate source of human sustenance; people have created places to realize that potential; and a spatial structure—nodes, routes, surfaces and bounded territories—has been erected within which human interactions are organised. The relationships between human societies and their environments—now very much changed from their pre-human “natural” state—involve competition for and conflicts over resources, of increasing intensity. Resolution of all but the smallest scale of those conflicts requires a body that is independent of the actors involved and can ensure that agreements are reached and then implemented. Such a body is the state, a territorially bounded apparatus that, through the operation of territoriality strategies, can ensure conflict resolution among its citizenry and thereby resolve environmental problems. Many of those problems—the most severe being global climate change resulting from anthropomorphically induced global warming—are not contained, and cannot be contained, within an individual state’s territory, however. Tackling them requires inter-state co-operation, at a global scale, but the absence of a super-national body with the power to require actions by individual states is a major constraint to problem resolution.

Article

A Multilevel Perspective on Corporate Governance: Firm, Industry, and Macro Environments  

Alessandro Zattoni and Hans van Ees

At the beginning of the 20th century, the publication of The Modern Corporation and Private Property opened the debate about the potential negative consequences associated with ownership dispersion. Since then, governance scholars aimed at understanding which corporate governance mechanisms could help companies both to prevent the agency problems connected with managerial opportunism, and to improve the strategic decision-making at the top of the firm. These early studies were mostly (or almost only) focused on the corporate governance of widely held companies listed in Anglo-American countries, thus neglecting for a long time the investigation of governance issues and mechanisms in other geographical settings. In addition, the main objective of these studies was to identify universal best practices (like an independent board, the separation of the CEO and Chair positions, or the use of high-powered incentives) that could address the agency problems of large listed companies. An implicit assumption in this stream of research was that firm-level agency problems do not vary across industry and macro environments, i.e., industry- and macro-environmental variables cannot either aggravate or attenuate agency problems. This long-standing tradition has been increasingly criticized by scholars arguing that industry- or macro-environmental variables could directly (or indirectly through their influence on governance mechanisms) affect corporate governance problems. Based on this idea, they started to develop sound theoretical models and to adopt rigorous empirical research methods in order to investigate if and how the characteristics of industry and macro environments could address firm-level agency problems. A first stream of studies argued and empirically analyzed whether some industry conditions (e.g., high competitiveness) could attenuate managerial discretion and, thus, partly solve firm-level agency problems. A second stream of research argued and empirically tested whether, instead, the high quality of the macro environment (e.g., the national or supranational level of investor protection, transparency, or rules enforcement) could directly address corporate governance problems, with beneficial effects on firm performance. More recently, scholars started to develop a multilevel investigation of corporate governance problems and mechanisms by including firm-, industry- and macro-environmental variables in their theoretical frameworks. In particular, through building new theoretical frameworks (e.g., based on the resource dependence or the institutional theory) and profiting from the development of new statistical techniques (like the multilevel statistical analysis or the fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis), scholars increasingly explored if and how the interaction among firm-level governance mechanisms and industry- and/or macro-environmental variables could address agency problems and produce positive consequences on firm long-term results. This new research stream suggests that the industry and macro environments affect the effectiveness of governance mechanisms and processes, and so represents boundary conditions that limit the generalizability of our research findings outside a specific context. In this way, they invite governance scholars either to contextualize their theories and results about firm-level governance mechanisms within a specific industry and macro context, or to explore the potential influence of one or more contextual variables (e.g., at the industry, country, or supranational level). Thanks to the results of this new stream of research, scholars and practitioners have been able to develop a richer and more contextual understanding of both (a) the relationships among corporate governance mechanisms and industry- and/or macro-environmental conditions, and (b) their direct and indirect impact on various company results.

Article

Governing Africa’s Seas in the Neoliberal Era  

Tarik Dahou and Brenda Chalfin

As blue growth (widely accepted as the sustainable development in the marine and maritime sectors as a whole) is gaining increasing traction, oceans and seas are seen as new frontiers for global capitalism. In African countries this trend has spurred a new wave of appropriation and control of maritime spaces for the blue economy. At a time of unprecedented expansion of global production and trade, the African continent is facing new challenges in maritime governance. The governance of the seas has profoundly changed in the 21st century with the explosion of maritime transport, the globalization of the exploitation of marine resources, and the growing concern for environmental issues. The idea of an integrated policy of seas and oceans management became a cornerstone of international and national instruments aiming to regulate maritime circulation and exploitation of marine resources. Integrated maritime management policies put emphasis on liberalization of the marine sectors and resources and the security agenda, taken in its broad sense to guarantee freedom of trade and environmental sustainability. These efforts, whose putative purpose is to combine economic, social, and environmental goals, has resulted in an unsteady balance between different sectors, scales, and actors and opened the door to controversies, dissent, and politics. Although the priorities of this global policy agenda continue to transform the maritime governance in Africa, the African states and societies are also actively reshaping it. While African states alter international maritime policies according to their own ends, these are also constantly molded through struggles over norms, resources, and spaces and conflicts arising from the dialectics of possession and dispossession. The text focuses on the four key areas of maritime governance: ports, offshore exploitation, security, and environment. Even though from the perspective of integrated maritime governance these fields are interwoven, they are subject to particular policies. Hence, while focusing on policies in each area separately, it also analyzes their relationships with each other in order to illuminate the complexity of power configurations.

Article

The Politics of Trade and Climate Change  

Daniel Yuichi Kono

Both trade and climate change policies affect the international competitiveness of carbon-intensive industries. This suggests that policy changes in one area may affect politics in the other. Does openness to international trade affect climate change politics? Do climate change policies affect the politics of trade? Does formally linking trade and climate policies via trade sanctions affect the prospects for cooperation in each domain? There are good theoretical reasons to believe that the answer to these questions is yes. Theoretically, each set of policies should affect the other, but these interactions could either encourage or discourage trade and climate cooperation. How trade and climate politics interact is thus an empirical question. Empirically, the overall picture is of a nascent but promising field of research. Extant studies provide indirect tests and suggestive evidence, but little in the way of firm conclusions. Only one point emerges clearly: progress in this area will require more and better data on national climate policies.

Article

Human and Environmental Interactions in Late Iron Age Kenya  

Freda Nkirote M'Mbogori

The Late Iron Age period in Kenya spans between 1000 BP and 200 BP. However, not much is known regarding this time period owing to the past direction of research in Kenya. Investigations concentrated on earlier archaeological periods due to the country’s richness in early human and technological evolution. As such the bias was not only in the research periods at the time but also, in the fact that, only those areas that were believed to yield such materials were explored. Most research was therefore conducted around the Kenyan Rift Valley until the late 1960s onwards, when the British Institute in Eastern Africa and others started to explore later archaeological and historical periods in the whole of Kenya. These researches, however, failed to recognize the evidence of mosaic in Iron Age sites, which was caused by complexities of diverse processes of replacement, admixture, interactions, and resistance in encounters between expanding and existing populations. Thus the name “Iron Age” for the period in question has been maintained denoting a period when iron was the most important or unique phenomenon, in total disregard of all the other social, political, and economic aspects. Use of oral traditions and genetic materials have, however, contributed greatly in filling the gaps, thus making it possible for archaeologists to understand the mosaic nature of archaeological materials resulting from interactions between populations who may have been culturally and socially distinct but lived during the same archaeological period. The available data show that the sites of this period range from open habitations, caves, and rock shelters to drystone structures, and that the human and environmental interactions were mutually beneficial to both. However, deeper understanding of land use and crop utilization is limited due to inadequate botanical datasets, since archaeobotanical recovery methods were rarely employed as a necessary direction of inquiry. This notwithstanding, as opposed to the environmental determinism theory, the populations of this period were not in sync with the environment, but rather, they were active participants who shaped it to suit their needs. Where resources such as water were not readily available, they improvised by tapping and managing them to suit their preferred occupations. Humans took advantage of natural landforms, climatic zones, and vegetation to shape different aspects of their lifestyles including economic subsistence, habitations, trade, and human-to-human interactions especially during environmental stress. Thus these populations must not be seen as helpless receivers from the environment, but active shapers and innovators of their lifestyles.

Article

Attitudes and Values  

Paul H. P. Hanel, Colin Foad, and Gregory R. Maio

Attitudes are people’s likes and dislikes toward anything and anyone that can be evaluated. This can be something as concrete as a mosquito that is tormenting you during the night or as abstract and broad as capitalism or communism. In contrast, human values have been defined as abstract ideals and guiding principles in one’s life and are considered as abstract as well as trans-situational. Thus, while both attitudes and values are important constructs in psychology that are necessarily related, there are also a range of differences between the two. Attitudes are specific judgments toward an object, while values are abstract and trans-situational; attitudes can be positive and negative, while values are mainly positive; and attitudes are less relevant for one’s self-concept than values. A range of studies have investigated how values and attitudes toward specific topics are associated. The rationale for most studies is that people’s values guide whether they like certain people, an object, or an idea. For example, the more people value universalism (e.g., equality, broad-mindedness), the more they support equal rights for groups that are typically disadvantaged. However, these associations can also be complex. If people do not consider an attitude to be a relevant expression of a value, it is less likely that the value predicts this attitude. Further, it can also matter for people’s attitudes whether their values match those of the people in their country, are similar to other social groups (e.g., immigrants), and whether they think their own group’s values are similar or dissimilar to the values of other groups. In sum, the literature shows that the links between values and attitudes are both entrenched and malleable and that these interrelations have many important consequences for understanding social-political divisions and well-being.

Article

Mining and the Environment  

George Vrtis and Kirke Elsass

Human societies have always depended upon minerals. Even a cursory glance at any world history textbook reveals the centrality of minerals—and thus mining—in forging human cultures in antiquity. The stone age, the bronze age, the iron age—each of these complex periods are, in part, defined by the increasing human engagement with the minerals used to characterize them. In the history of the United States, mineral extraction has also been fundamental to the nature and evolution of the nation, as well as its colonial and Indigenous pasts. It was present in Native American societies prior to European contact, accelerated with European colonization, became foundational with the advent of the industrial revolution, was renegotiated with the rise of the environmental movement, and has influenced the United States’ relationship with many parts of the world. As these developments have unfolded, mining and mineral use have radically altered the natural world and profoundly shaped people’s relationships with the environment and with one another.

Article

Landscapes and Memory  

Ben Bridges and Sarah Osterhoudt

Broadly, landscapes can be considered terrains of connectivity. Landscapes encompass wild, cultivated, urban, feral, and fallow spaces, as well as the human and nonhuman entities who inhabit and shape them. Memory refers to the past as it exists in the present, bridging temporally discrete moments through the intentional or unintentional act of remembering. Memory studies, from the view of anthropology, include explorations of individual forms of remembrance, as well as the collective, heterogenous ways of marking, interpreting, and erasing the past. Taken together, landscapes and memory co-constitute one another: landscapes store, depict, and evoke memories while memories recall, revise, and shape landscapes. Knowledge and power are inevitably wrapped up in the relationship, and anthropologists have investigated the manifest ways such forces emerge through human acts of cultivation, commemoration, nostalgia, and forgetting. Because landscapes and memory appear in both physical and immaterial forms, the social constructs, cultural expressions, and human and nonhuman relationships on which they are based generate rich material for anthropological study. While landscape and memory are surely topics independently worthy of study, undertaking the two in tandem elucidates the intertwining threads that bind together space and time; such studies interrogate realms of personal meaning and political power while simultaneously highlighting dynamic processes of adaptation, improvisation, and erasure.

Article

Social and Environmental Implications of Plantation Agriculture in Malaysia and Indonesia  

Jean-François Bissonnette and Rodolphe De Koninck

Plantation farming emerged as a large-scale system of specialized agriculture in the tropics under European colonialism, in opposition to smallholding subsistence agriculture. Despite large-scale plantations in the tropics, smallholdings have consistently formed the backbone of rural economies, to the extent that they have become the main producers of some of the former plantation crops. In the early 21st century, oil palm has become the third most important cash crop in the world in terms of area cultivated, largely due to the expansion of this crop in Malaysia and Indonesia. Although in these countries, oil palm is primarily cultivated in large plantations, smallholders cultivate a large share of the territory devoted to this crop. This is related to the programs set up by governments of Malaysia and Indonesia during the second half of the 20th century, to provide smallholders with land plots in capital intensive large-scale oil palm schemes. Despite the relative success encountered by these programs in both countries, policymakers have continued to insist on the development of private centrally managed large-scale plantations. Yet, smallholding family farming has remained the most resilient economic activity in rural areas of the tropics. This system has proven adaptive to environmental change and, given proper access to markets and capital, particularly responsive to market signals. Today, many small-holdings are still characterized by the diversity of crops cultivated, low use of chemical inputs, reliance on family labor, and high levels of ecological knowledge. These are some of the main factors explaining why small family farms have proven more efficient than large plantations and, in the long term, more economically and ecologically resilient. Yet, large-scale land acquisitions for monocrop production remain a current issue, highlighting the paradox of the latest stage of agrarian capitalism and of its persistent built-in disregard for environmental deterioration.

Article

Framing Complexity in Environmental and Human Health  

Hans Keune and Timo Assmuth

Framing and dealing with complexity are crucially important in environment and human health science, policy, and practice. Complexity is a key feature of most environment and human health issues, which by definition include aspects of the environment and human health, both of which constitute complex phenomena. The number and range of factors that may play a role in an environment and human health issue are enormous, and the issues have a multitude of characteristics and consequences. Framing this complexity is crucial because it will involve key decisions about what to take into account when addressing environment and human health issues and how to deal with them. This is not merely a technical process of scientific framing, but also a methodological decision-making process with both scientific and societal implications. In general, the benefits and risks related to such issues cannot be generalized or objectified, and will be distributed unevenly, resulting in health and environmental inequalities. Even more generally, framing is crucial because it reflects cultural factors and historical contingencies, perceptions and mindsets, political processes, and associated values and worldviews. Framing is at the core of how we as humans relate to, and deal with, environment and human health, as scientists, policymakers, and practitioners, with models, policies, or actions.

Article

The Environmental History of Russia  

Stephen Brain

Russian environmental history is a new field of inquiry, with the first archivally based monographs appearing only in the last years of the 20th century. Despite the field’s youth, scholars studying the topic have developed two distinct and contrasting approaches to its central question: How should the relationship between Russian culture and the natural world be characterized? Implicit in this question are two others: Is the Russian attitude toward the non-human world more sensitive than that which prevails in the West; and if so, is the Russian environment healthier or more stable than that of the United States and Western Europe? In other words, does Russia, because of its traditional suspicion of individualism and consumerism, have something to teach the West? Or, on the contrary, has the Russian historical tendency toward authoritarianism and collectivism facilitated predatory policies that have degraded the environment? Because environmentalism as a political movement and environmental history as an academic subject both emerged during the Cold War, at a time when the Western social, political, and economic system vied with the Soviet approach for support around the world, the comparative (and competitive) aspect of Russian environmental history has always been an important factor, although sometimes an implicit one. Accordingly, the existing scholarly works about Russian environmental history generally fall into one of two camps: one very critical of the Russian environmental record and the seeming disregard of the Russian government for environmental damage, and a somewhat newer group of works that draw attention to the fundamentally different concerns that motivate Russian environmental policies. The first group emphasizes Russian environmental catastrophes such as the desiccated Aral Sea, the eroded Virgin Lands, and the public health epidemics related to the severely polluted air of Soviet industrial cities. The environmental crises that the first group cites are, most often, problems once prevalent in the West, but successfully ameliorated by the environmental legislation of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The second group, in contrast, highlights Russian environmental policies that do not have strict Western analogues, suggesting that a thorough comparison of the Russian and Western environmental records requires, first of all, a careful examination of what constitutes environmental responsibility.

Article

Environmental Policy and Foreign Policy  

John Barkdull

International agreements on environmental issues are the result of the coordination of states’ foreign policies. To understand the international politics of the environment requires attention to the institutional, social, economic, and cognitive factors that determine foreign policies. Although nearly every foreign policy bears on environmental concerns, the focus is on the policies that states adopt centered on humanity’s relationship to the natural world and ecology. Scholarship on environmental policy and foreign policy has not developed distinctive schools of thought. However, organizing scholarship according to a theoretically grounded typology reveals affinities among various scholarly works: systemic, societal, and state-centric approaches can be grouped according to whether they emphasize power, interests, or cognitive factors. Most studies of environmental foreign policy are oriented toward problem solving—identifying discrete problems in existing institutional arrangements and pointing toward solutions to these problems that do not question the institutions fundamentally. This orientation may not be adequate if crossing planetary boundaries leads to environmental challenges so severe that current institutions cannot cope. Climate change poses just such a challenge, and the rising concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere means a future crisis is predictable. Thus, scholars might be best advised to orient toward critical theory, which seeks feasible alternatives to existing arrangements. The study of foreign policy toward the environment would be most useful in helping scholars and policy makers to identify and surmount barriers to transformational changes that would enable humanity to cope with future environmental crisis.

Article

Environmental History  

Emmanuel Kreike

Environmental history highlights the dynamic interaction between the physical environment and human society, respectively framed as nature and culture. Attributing agency to the environment is perhaps the most distinguishing attribute of environmental history as an approach while human society’s struggle to overcome environmental challenges is a major focus of environmental historians. Generally, students of the African past have tended to emphasize that Africa and Africans were more dependent on nature (including climate, geography, natural resources, “natural” population dynamics, disease) than societies elsewhere, especially those in the modern West. Thus, colonial and postcolonial analysts ascribe Africa’s past as the cradle of the human species, its present lack of political and economic development, and its bleak future in an age of climate change not to any African (or human) genius but to the caprices of an undomesticated environment and interventions by outside actors that disturb an environment-people balance. Historians emphasized that political subjugation, agricultural development, and conservation increased African societies’ vulnerability (to malnutrition, drought, and indigenous and exotic diseases, for example) in the face of environmental change because it enclosed and alienated such key natural resources as land, woodlands, wildlife, and water. More recently, historians of Africa have highlighted a more dynamic and interactive relationship between society and environment in Africa beyond the analytical and nested dichotomies of Nature-Culture, Indigenous-Invasive, and Victim/Subaltern-Perpetrator/Ruler. The perspective opens space for considering how societies perceived and shaped their environments physically and mentally in conjunction with other ideas and forces, including a variety of human and non-human agents, further enriching the study of environmental history.

Article

Environment  

Fred H. Besthorn

The earth's climatic and environmental conditions appear to be going through rapid and dramatic changes. Social work has traditionally distinguished itself by claiming a particular focus on person–environment transactions. The balance between the person and the environment has not been easy to maintain—especially with the environmental construct often becoming constricted to small-scale personal space and existing social systems. In the context of a growing environmental crisis and international awareness of the earth's tenuous ecological condition, social work can reclaim its traditional commitment to environmental concerns and find new ways to express and operationalize these concerns in a rapidly changing world.

Article

Macroeconomics and the Environment  

Partha Sen

Macroeconomics deals with economics at the aggregate level. This could be at a national level or that of the interaction between nations. Production of output necessarily involves pollution and degrading the environment. Therefore, environmental issues inevitably are a factor. Some problems that have been highlighted in the literature are surveyed here. It has been argued that a poor country deliberately lowers its environmental standards to steal jobs from other countries. What is the theoretical underpinning and the evidence for this assertion? The evidence is very weak in support of this. Moreover, in the fight against climate change, poorer countries claim exemption from tightening their emissions norms because of their poverty. Similarly, although equity demands this, it could pose serious challenges to fighting climate change—oil producers would pump oil faster if they foresaw it becoming useless. A piecemeal approach will not work. A more basic question is how to introduce natural resource use in national income accounts to give meaning to the notion of sustainability. National income accounts do not take into account non-market activities. Some progress has been made in the theory and empirical implementation of sustainability by including non-market activities. A lot of work has been done but a lot more still needs to be done in this area.

Article

Social Interaction in VR  

Eugy Han and Jeremy N. Bailenson

Social interaction is one of the most popular use cases of virtual reality (VR). Virtual worlds accessed through VR headsets can immerse people in diverse places and present its users however they wish to be represented. The affordances of this technology allow people to connect with themselves, others, and their surroundings in unique ways. Research has shown that social norms found in the physical world transfer over to virtual worlds. People respond to virtual people in a manner similar to how they would treat people in the physical world. Although virtual worlds and the physical world share similarities, they have many differences. Virtual reality is not—and does not necessarily need to be—a veridical representation of the physical world. Virtual reality has the ability to transform everything, such as what people look like, how they behave, where they are, and how they see things. Cues related to people, such as their visual appearance and nonverbal behavior, or place, such as the surrounding environment and perspective, can be augmented, filtered, or suppressed. These transformations also lead to significant psychological and behavioral effects, affecting how people build trust, engage with others, or communicate nonverbally. Whereas some of these transformations may be unintentional, such as technological by-products, other transformations can be intentional. As a result, it is critical to understand how social interactions occur differently in these transformed environments.

Article

Postcolonial Thought and the Emergence of Global Architectural Histories  

Kathleen James-Chakraborty

In the last quarter of the 20th century theories of the postcolonial were usually closely tied to the experience of British and French colonialism in a band of North African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian colonies stretching from Morocco to Malaysia. During this period, Edward Said’s book Orientalism and the early work in subaltern studies both challenged the supposedly dispassionate character of Western scholarship on North Africa and Asia by demonstrating the degree to which it had been skewed by racial and class bias. Although architectural historians took more than a decade to fully absorb its implications, there are few humanities or social sciences disciplines that since the 1990s have been more thoroughly transformed by this once radical shift in perspective, which has changed how the architecture of almost all parts of the world is understood. Whether or not they fully engaged with the theories articulated in scholarship whose initial focus was the analysis of literature, in the case of Said, or of history, in that of subaltern studies, 21st-century architectural historians have paid unprecedented attention to the post-1500 architecture of the Global South, to colonial architecture and its relationship to economic exploitation, to post-independence architecture especially in relation to international modernisms, and to the impact that colonialism had on the architecture of the metropole. While the second and third of these had long been addressed in relation to British settler colonies, architectural history’s global turn meant that they could no longer be considered in isolation from new comprehensive histories of imperialism.

Article

Adolescent Brain Development  

Jessica M. Black

Although it was once widely held that development through toddlerhood was the only significant time of tremendous brain growth, findings from neuroscience have identified adolescence as a second significant period of brain-based changes. Profound modification of brain structure, function, and connectivity, paired with heightened sensitivity to environment, places adolescence both as a heightened period of risk and importantly as a time of tremendous opportunity. These findings are of key relevance for social-work policy and practice, for they speak to the ways in which the adolescent brain both is vulnerable to adverse conditions and remains responsive to positive environmental input such as interventions that support recovery and resilience.

Article

The Environment in Australian Literature  

Tony Hughes-d'Aeth

While the relationship between humans and environment in Australia stretches back some 50,000 years, the colonization of the continent by Europeans in the late 18th century dramatically altered Australia’s ecology. Creative literature has responded variously to the encounter that colonization precipitated. In particular, modulations appear through successive epistemological and ideological paradigms: Enlightenment rationality, romantic sensibility, nationalist celebration, and ecological alarm. While early conservationist impulses are visible in the colonial period, in the middle of the 20th century, the birth of the modern ecological consciousness understands that not only particular species or habitats are at risk, but the entirety of nature seems to suddenly face a historically unprecedented vulnerability. In this sense, it is methodologically useful to separate Australian environmental texts between those that are “pre-ecological” and those that are “post-ecological.”

Article

The Breast Cancer and Environment Research Program  

Kami J. Silk and Daniel Totzkay

The Breast Cancer and Environment Research Program (BCERP) is a transdisciplinary program of research created to investigate environmental exposures and their relationship to breast cancer with a particular focus on puberty as a potential window of increased susceptibility to environmental exposures. A transdisciplinary approach has a strong focus on translating scientific findings into usable health practices as well as health prevention messages so that current research informs practice as well as communication to the lay public. BCERP engaged in communication science to develop health messages for lay audiences, health professionals, and outreach organizations. The precautionary principle, used as a primary guide in regards to message translation and dissemination, yields a useful discussion of the BCERP organizational structure. An exploration of formative communication science efforts in BCERP, areas of sensitivity for creating BCERP messages, and resources created for BCERP toolkits serves to illustrate and describe this one approach to designing health and risk messages.