Shirley J. Professor Fiske is an environmental and policy anthropologist whose work has been dedicated to augmenting the voice of social sciences, and anthropology in particular, in natural resource management and environmental and policy issues--presenting the human side—cultural, behavioral, and social—of our interactions with the environment.
“Very early in my career I became convinced that anthropology has important insights to offer and roles to play across the range of policy stages and issue; and I have dedicated myself to engaging with and making those models accessible to a broader range of the public and academia. I co-edited the book Anthropological Praxis in 1986 and its themes have been a continual thread in my publications, work with graduate students, teaching, and service in professional organizations. Most of my career has been working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a research manager and program director in multidisciplinary ocean and coastal research and outreach/extension. I was there at an historic time when fisheries management and fishing communities were undergoing profound change from open access to limited access fisheries, including individual quotas, as fishery manageres in NOAA began to regulate the fishing industry’s effort and gear. I worked with marine anthropologists to fund and promote social sciences of community and family impact and involvement. I worked to ensure that the growing federal interest in and research on global change had a human dimensions program that was broadly based in anthropology and the social sciences. My work with ocean resources, coastal communities, and fisheries broadened when I took a job in the Senate dealing with energy policy, climate change, natural resources, and public lands, including National Forests and National Parks.
I am currently a Research Professor with the Department of Anthropology, continuing an association that began in 1984 when the MAA degree was developed. This appointment allows me to focus work on the Chesapeake, in particular, and to be back in the field after being a manager, research reviewer and funder, and legislative actor for over 20 years. After seeing the difficulties that climate scientists and educators have in convincing the public, legislators that climate change is important to act on, I am convinced that we need a more thorough understanding of how people think about climate and environmental change in general. I am co-PI with Dr. Michael Paolisso on an anthropology climate change grant from NSF (http://www.eanthchesapeake.umd.edu/climate.html ) and am working on a book on carbon offsets and social equity. I continue a long history of participation and service in professional organizations and am currently Chair of the AAA’s Task Force on Global Climate Change (2011-2014), an eminent group of colleagues concerned with anthropology and its role in climate change, which you can find at http://www.aaanet.org/cmtes/commissions/CCTF/gcctf.cfm. I enjoy mentoring graduate students, MAA and PhD candidates, and young professionals as they develop their careers; and was recently asked to serve on the Editorial Board for the American Anthropologist (2013).”
I chair the American Anthropological Association's (AAA) Global Climate Change Task Force (GCCTF), which was created to address the concerns of growing numbers of anthropologists working with communities in the area of climate change.
The changing nature of our complex, interconnected world is drawing Anthropology into uncharted understandings and contested interpretations and into novel relationships with local to global communities and a multiplicity of academic disciplines. The AAA’s Global Climate Change Task Force has been identifying, and promoting Anthropology’s knowledge of and engagement with the expanding field of climate change from a human perspective – grappling with the phenomenon’s genesis, impacts, policy processes, solutions, practices and prospects for the future. The Task Force was formed in 2010, made up of AAA members all prominent in the evolving field of anthropology and climate change and supported by general membership interest and the AAA Executive Board. The eleven-member task force is in the third and final year of its mandate, and will prepare a report and recommendations to the AAA Executive Board. Related to the report, this panel allows scholars to address research at the intersection of engagements and publics in global environmental change.
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