Modeling Narratives and Influence in Water Governance

This study combines modeling with qualitative analysis of interviews and focus groups with growers, residents of rural communities, and advocacy groups centered around questions of water governance in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The model is then used to explore how these narratives how actors organize and form coalitions and strategies for enacting change, and the implications of the changes implied by different narratives for how different groups can influence and are influenced by each other. This work aims to bring together top-down structural approaches to governance and bottom-up perspectives that aim to understand how people experience, respond to, and perceive governance.

Stability of Governance Systems

This study develops an approach for modeling different configurations of interactions among groups of resource users that rely on a common-pool resource and the infrastructure and institutions that mediate their access to that resource. I use this modeling approach to analyze thousands of variants of resource governance system structures to understand how different topological features and types of interactions influence the stability of resource governance. The results reveal how greater diversity, heterogeneity, and interdependence among actors cause systems to be more susceptible to change, while features like a greater number of non-government organizations and strategies that take advantage of multiple decision-making venues are stabilizing. Future work involves exploring how empirical resource governance systems differ from the hypothetical ones generated in this study, and how this increases system stability.

Dynamics of Resource-Based Communities

Resource-based communities are rural communities that rely economically on a single industry based on capital-intensive resource extraction. These communities face a unique contradiction between their ability to earn a livelihood and their quality of life. Using a stylized dynamical systems model of asymmetric resource access and control in resource-based communities that links industrial resource degradation, community well-being, and migration in response to economic and resource conditions, I explore how different extraction policies impact system resilience and community wellbeing. In future work, I am exploring a more general version of the model to understand how changes in control parameters lead to qualitatively different regimes of system behavior for resource-based communities with varying resource, economic, and political dynamics.