Sean Downey

Assistant Professor

Please see the website for my Research Lab.

Sean Downey is an ecological anthropologist whose research explores the social and ecological dynamics of farming and foraging societies, past and present. His work is guided by the belief that anthropology’s traditional focus on primary data collection and attention to variability in human culture can provide important insights into pressing questions about sustainability. Sean often uses a “complex adaptive systems” approach to investigate the relationship between humans and the natural environment, which focuses on system dynamics, feedback, scale, historical contingency and emergence; in accordance, one distinguishing aspect of his work and teaching is the use of computational methods such as agent-based modeling, social network analysis, GIS, and computational statistics to complement more traditional anthropological methods. Sean’s projects have spanned three sub-disciplines of anthropology including sociocultural anthropology, archaeology, and computational approaches to historical linguistics.



Areas of Interest:
  • Ecological anthropology; swidden agriculture, common-property resources, Q'eqchi' Maya ethnoecology, neolithic prehistory in Europe and Indonesia, computational linguistics, computational social science (ABM, SNA, GIS, and phylogenetics).
Former Students
  • Guowei Sun
    Research Assistant
  • Matt Gabb
    BSOS Summer Scholar
  • Downey
1106 Woods Hall
Department of Anthropology
Phone: (301) 405-1427