Arun Agrawal elected to National Academy of Sciences


University of Michigan sustainable development researcher Arun Agrawal has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest distinctions for a scientist or engineer in the United States.

Agrawal, the Samuel Trask Dana Professor and professor of environment and sustainability at the School for Environment and Sustainability, was among 84 new members and 21 foreign associates elected in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research, the NAS announced Tuesday.

Arun Agrawal

Those elected bring the total number of active members to 2,382 and the total number of foreign associates to 484.

Agrawal’s research and teaching emphasize the politics of international development, institutional change and environmental sustainability. He has written critically on indigenous knowledge, community-based conservation, common property, resource governance, and environmental beliefs and identities.

“Recognition of this work by the national academies emphasizes the need for a deeper understanding of how humans influence and are shaped by the natural world,” Agrawal said.

He is the founder and coordinator for the Forests and Livelihoods: Assessment, Research and Engagement initiative, which is supported by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development. Agrawal currently conducts research in east Africa, South Asia, Indonesia and Brazil. Since 2013, he has served as editor-in-chief of the journal World Development.

Agrawal received a doctorate and a master’s degree in political science from Duke University, a master’s degree in business administration from the Indian Institute of Management, and a bachelor’s in history from Delhi University.

“Arun Agrawal is an inspiration to all of us who have the privilege of working alongside him,” said Jonathan Overpeck, dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability.

“He is a thought leader and a top scholar in the field of sustainable development, one of the most important issues of our time. His election to the National Academy of Sciences is a well-earned acknowledgment of his seminal contributions to his field.”

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership and — with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine — provides science, engineering and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.


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