Meredith Welch-Devine is the Director of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs at the UGA Graduate School and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology. Dr. Welch-Devine conducts research and teaches in the broad area of human-environment interactions. In addition to teaching in the Integrative Conservation Ph.D. program, she regularly teaches courses and leads workshops on the communication of research and scholarship.
Dr. Welch-Devine received both her Ph.D. in Anthropology (2008) and her M.S. in Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development (2009) from the University of Georgia. While completing a post-doc funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation through the Advancing Conservation in a Social Context project, she helped draft the program proposal and shape the curriculum for the Integrative Conservation program. Shortly thereafter, she joined the UGA Graduate School in her current capacity, helping faculty design and launch interdisciplinary training grants, certificates, and degree programs. Dr. Welch-Devine is active in the community of graduate administrators, serving on the Executive Committee of the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools and leading sessions and presenting at the Georgia Council of Graduate Schools and the Council of Graduate Schools annual meetings. She runs Three Minute Thesis competitions for both UGA and the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools.
Dr. Welch-Devine’s primary research interests include political ecology, the intersection of conservation and agriculture, climate change, and common pool resources. Her dissertation research centered on the implementation of the European Union’s Habitats Directive in the French Basque province of Xiberoa (Soule). This directive creates a pan-European network of sites, Natura 2000, to be managed for ecological, social, and economic sustainability. Up to this point, however, it has been strongly resisted by local land managers and resource users. Her dissertation explains the context of that resistance, discusses the particularities of implementing a conservation project in an area with a strong common property regime, and examines conceptualizations of success among various actors. Since that time, Dr. Welch-Devine has continued to work in Xiberoa, primarily looking at agricultural policy, multi-functional agriculture, and marketing of agricultural products in specialty markets and using labels of quality.
Closer to home, Dr. Welch-Devine is part of the team of investigators on the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research project. Her current work is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Cultural Anthropology program. This research, with collaborator Brian Burke of Appalachian State University, seeks to more closely examine how people in southern Appalachia perceive and understand climate change and possibilities for adaptation. In addition to leveraging the Coweeta LTER, this work forms part of an international comparative project, the Programme Interdisciplinaire sur les indicateurs Autochtones de la Faune et de la Flore.
In addition to this work, Dr. Welch-Devine also conducts research and writes on both science communication and interdisciplinary pedagogy. She is also Co-PI on an NSF-funded Innovations in Graduate Education award, GS LEAD, that seeks to improve graduate student training in professional development.