Catherine Corson

Miller Worley Associate Professor of Environmental Studies; on leave 2021-2022
Specialization: 
Political ecology, global environmental governance, the politics of foreign aid; conservation, technology, and human rights; multi-sited institutional ethnography and collaborative event ethnography

As a political ecologist, Catherine Corson uses ethnography to explore questions of power, knowledge, and justice in case studies from rural villages to international policy arenas. Her research focuses on the rise of market-based environmentalism, popular resistance to it, the turn to technology in conservation, and associated shifts in governance.

Her book, Corridors of Power: The Politics of Environmental Aid to Madagascar, published by Yale University Press, uses the history and politics of U.S. Agency for International Development’s environmental program in Madagascar as a case study of the forty-year transformation of environmental governance under neoliberalism and its relationship to shifting resource rights and access in the Global South.

As part of an international group of researchers, she also uses a method called Collaborative Event Ethnography to adapt “traditional” ethnographic methods to study how environmental conferences precipitate paradigm shifts in global conservation. 

Her new Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-supported research examines access, trust, and governance in the green cryptocurrency revolution.

At Mount Holyoke, Corson teaches courses such as Political Ecology; Environment and Development; Global Environmental Governance; and Qualitative Research Methods. With an interdisciplinary academic training, which has spanned biology, public policy, economics and political ecology, she has a strong commitment to multidisciplinary collaboration in research and teaching, and a decade of prior professional experience in environment and development policy, politics and consulting inspires her focus on teaching students how to translate their academic learning into professional policy skills. Finally, fieldwork on indigenous and local resource rights in the Global North and South, and professional experience in international development, underpins a strong interest in environmental justice and development studies.

A former director of the Miller Worley Center for the Environment, she has also been actively involved in advancing the sustainability and campus living lab initiatives, as well as building student opportunities for global/local learning and social entrepreneurship. 

Recent Campus News

After Emily Chang ’18 (left) interned with Yiting Wang ’11 at the World Wide Fund for Nature, Wang invited her to attend a conference at Columbia University.

The transformative alumnae–student bond

An environmental studies student at Mount Holyoke and an alumna working for the World Wide Fund for Nature make a life-changing connection.  

This is a picture of the Environmental Film Festival logo

Environmental film fest is food for thought

The Miller Worley Center for the Environment is bringing a three-day film festival to Mount Holyoke.

Diana Wells of Ashoka will speak at Mount Holyoke College’s Global Challenges Conference on Feb. 16, 2018.

Giving students an engaged global education

This year’s Global Challenges Conference focuses on changing global–local inequalities and features keynote speaker Diana Wells of Ashoka. 

 Shaughnessy Naughton and Robert K. Musil will be speaking at Mount Holyoke as part of a speaker series on Science, the Environment and Advocacy.

MHC to host science and public advocacy talks

Science and public advocacy experts Shaughnessy Naughton and Robert K. Musil are slated to speak at Mount Holyoke College.

National Endowment funds pilot program to explore global and local inequalities through humanities lens

Preparing students to become global citizens

National Endowment funds pilot program to explore global and local inequalities through humanities lens