Merrill (Mez) Baker-Medard
B.A., Smith College; Ph.D., University of California (Berkeley)
Visiting Lecturer in Environmental Studies
Interdisciplinary research focused on the intersection of human geography, conservation science, environmental politics, and gender studies.
My research broadly explores how different natural resource governance strategies influence conflict arising at the interface of extractive industry and biodiversity conservation. I am especially interested in how the benefits and burdens of these conflicts are spread across different sectors of society in relation to gender, race, class, and nationality.
My dissertation focused on marine fisheries management in Madagascar, specifically looking at how access to and control over marine resources is constructed and contested in various locales extending from coastal villages to international policy arenas. By examining three marine conservation projects in Madagascar, a state-managed, a co-managed and community-managed marine protected area, I investigated how different configurations of authority (the capacity of politico-legal institutions to influence other social actors) transform people’s understanding of and claims to marine resources.
I have had teaching experience in two other U.S. universities and two Malagasy universities. Teaching a diverse student body, especially cross-culturally, has made me deeply aware of the variety of approaches to and concepts of what constitutes learning. I take seriously the task of reflecting on my own as well as my student's cultural biases in the classroom, and strive to enable meaningful engagement with course material for students with a diversity of perspectives, experiences, and approaches to learning. I am teaching four courses at Wellesley including: Introduction to Sustainability, Social Causes and Consequences of Environmental Problems, Gender Health and the Environment, and Environmental Policy. I also have experience teaching courses including: Introduction to Culture and Natural Resource Management, Society and Natural Resources: A Political Ecology Approach, Social Science Research Methods, and Environmental Justice.
My interests in conservation and social justice have led me to work with international conservation organizations such as the Wildlife Conservation Society, Conservation International, and the World Wildlife Fund as well as community-based organizers based in Madagascar, South Africa and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Other interests I have include rock climbing, softball, pottery, and dancing Salegy.