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Professor Rebecca Lave

23rd – 24th January, 2019
Department of Geography, University of Cambridge

Professor Rebecca Lave, Associate Professor in Geography, Indiana University

Rebecca Lave is Associate Professor in Geography at Indiana University and combines a critical physical geography approach with political economy, social studies of science, and fluvial geomorphology to address key questions, such as those around market based approaches to environmental conservation.

Rebecca Lave


Can we save nature by selling it?
Distinguished International Visiting Fellow Lecture

5pm, Wednesday 23rd January 2019
Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Selling nature in order to save it is the core goal animating market-based approaches to environmental conservation. Such approaches have become a central component of international environmental policy and practice, with biodiversity offsetting and related policies enacted on every continent except Antarctica. What are the consequences of this shift? Can putting a price tag on nature succeed where previous regulatory approaches to environmental conservation have failed?

In this talk, Professor Lave will trace the development of market-based forms of environmental management, examining their track record and future potential through integrated physical and social science analysis of markets for stream and habitat credits. She will argue that the contrast between the dynamism and complexity of ecosystems and the stability and simplicity required for functional markets radically limits the conservation potential of market-based approaches.

Lecture – poster


Bridging the gap: Integrating critical human and physical geography in practice
Distinguished International Visiting Fellow Seminar

4.15pm Thursday 24th January 2019
Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

The relationship (or lack thereof) between physical and human geography is a longstanding discussion within our field. Rather than debate the possibility or desirability of integration, Professor Lave will argue that there is already a strong and growing body of work that draws together critical human and physical geography in an emerging sub-field: critical physical geography.

Critical physical geographers are bridging the gap, combining insights from geomorphology, ecology, and biogeography with approaches from political ecology, science and technology studies, and environmental history. The key characteristics that unify this work are its emphasis on treating physical processes and unequal power relations with equal seriousness, its acknowledgement of the politics of knowledge production, and its normative agenda of using research to promote eco-social transformation. By way of illustration, Professor Lave presents the results of a critical physical geography study of market-based environmental management in the US that she conducted with Martin Doyle (Duke), and Morgan Robertson (U Wisconsin). She will argue that while the fluvial landscape bears a clear signature of environmental policy, the development of ecosystem service markets in “stream credits” has different consequences than could be expected.

Seminar – poster


12pm, Friday 25th January

Rebecca has kindly agreed to run a workshop organised to give people experience formulating critical physical geography research projects. Please contact Amy McGuire if interested.