020: Academic culture and California’s water governance with Courtney Hammond Wagner

In this podcast, Michael and Stefan have a conversation with Courtney Hammond Wagner. Courtney is a postdoctoral research fellow at Stanford University. We discuss some of the challenges of navigating a career in academia, particularly as a young parent and changing rules and norms of the science system itself. We then get into Courtney’s research on water governance in California, and challenges for using frameworks in science, with the example of Ostrom’s social-ecological systems framework.

As an environmental social scientist, Courtney’s research broadly aims to understand how we design incentives, rules and policies to collectively change behavior in water resource dilemmas to improve community well-being and ecological outcomes. At Water in the west, Courtney is working on two aspects of California’s 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) policy process: the mandated use of climate information in groundwater sustainability plans and the role of incentives in farmer groundwater use. This work builds on her previous SGMA research in Yolo County, California to identify the role of farmer social norms and fairness perceptions in the SGMA policy process.

Courtney received a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont where she studied policy design for declining water quality from agricultural nutrient runoff, and has a BA in Psychology from Dartmouth College.



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