Human Dimensions

The Human Dimensions of Natural Resources research group investigates the complex relationships between people and the environment through social science research and analysis. HDNR is an interdisciplinary field applying and integrating elements from psychology, sociology, economics, policy, and ecology. The research group produces empirical data, applies theory, and advances research methods and conceptual frameworks for more effective and informed decision-making. Students will acquire the necessary research skills and experiences to become effective leaders in natural resources problem solving, policy, and management.

Two primary areas of focus for the HDNR research group include:

Human Dimensions of Wildlife: From management preference regarding black bears to communication strategies to limit the poaching of Whooping Cranes, HDNR researchers investigate both charismatic megafauna and threatened and endangered species. New areas in HDW such as the application of the one-health framework to explore human dimensions of Zika and the West-Nile Virus are being explored. And finally, traditional HDW examination of invasive species such as wild hogs, hunter and angler preferences, satisfaction and economic impacts, and birder’s place attachment are all examples of common HD research in the program.

Human Dimensions of Nature-based Recreation and Sustainable Tourism: International studies of volunteer tourism, ecotourism, and cultural tourism in places such as Costa Rica, Belize, Ecuador, and Fiji are part of the focus of the HD group. Closer to home, studies of recreation access and human health, rails to trails, mountain biking, and economic impacts of parks and protected areas are all topics of research in the HD group.

The HDNR group have a strong international reputation and fund and conduct research in Alabama, the southeast, the Pacific Islands and in Latin America. Graduate students and faculty work together to publish their research in top rated peer-reviewed journals while also disseminating information locally at workshops and through agency reports and outreach materials. Graduate students are expected to present their research at regional and international conferences.

The group works with a variety of stakeholders including the general-public, user groups, natural resource agencies, non-governmental organizations, and politicians to expand our knowledge of and apply human dimensions research in natural resources and wildlife policy and management.

Faculty Experts

Michael Brunson 200x300

Michael Brunson

Professor of Practice, Parks and Recreation Management

Office: 4331
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Chris Lepczyk

Christopher Lepczyk

Professor, Wildlife Biology and Conservation

Office: 2341
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Allie McCreary

Allie McCreary

Assistant Professor, Parks & Recreation

Office: 4337
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Wayde Morse

Wayde Morse

Professor, Conservation Social Sciences

Office: 3229
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