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Joseph Tainter

Head of the Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University

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Environmental and Sustainability Issues


Joseph Tainter received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from Northwestern University in 1975. He worked on issues of sustainability before the term became common, including his highly-acclaimed book The Collapse of Complex Societies (Cambridge University Press, 1988). He is co-editor of The Way the Wind Blows: Climate, History, and Human Action (Columbia University Press, 2000), a work exploring past human responses to climate change. With T. F. H. Allen and Thomas Hoekstra he wrote Supply-Side Sustainability (Columbia University Press, 2003), the first comprehensive approach to sustainability to integrate ecological and social science. Dr. Tainter has taught at the University of New Mexico and Arizona State University. Until 2005 he directed the Cultural Heritage Research Project in Rocky Mountain Research Station. He is currently Professor and Head of the Department of Environment and Society at Utah State University, Logan.

Dr. Tainter's sustainability research has been used in more than 40 countries, and in many scientific and applied fields. Among other institutions, his work has been used in the United Nations Environment Program, UNESCO, the World Bank, the Rand Corporation, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, the Earth Policy Institute, and the Technology Transfer Institute/Vanguard. Dr. Tainter has been invited to present his research at the Getty Research Center, the University of Paris (Panthéon-Sorbonne), the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and many other venues. His research has been applied in economic development, environmental conservation, health care, information technology, urban studies, and the challenges of security in response to terrorism. Recently he provided commentary for the film The 11th Hour, produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, Leila Conners Petersen, and Nadia Conners. Dr. Tainter's biography is included in Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in America, and Who's Who in Science and Engineering.

Download a prepared introduction for Joseph Tainter joseph-tainter.doc


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