Dr. Rebecca Austin

Dr. Rebecca Austin
Professor of Anthropology and Environment & Sustainability

Areas of expertise:

  • Environmental anthropology 
  • Applied anthropology 
  • Cultural ecology 
  • Community-based conservation 
  • Cultural resource ethnography 
  • Public involvement 
  • Social impact assessment 
  • Curriculum design 
  • Program evaluation 
  • Environmental justice 
  • Southwest U.S.
  • Philippines
  • Traditional ecological knowledge 


  • Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Georgia, 2003 
  • M.A., Applied Anthropology, Northern Arizona University, 1989 
  • B.A., Fort Lewis College, 1980 


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About Dr. Rebecca Austin

Dr. Austin joined Fort Lewis College in 2010 and teaches a range of courses, including Environmental Anthropology, Coastal Anthropology, History of Anthropological Thought, and Social Dimensions of Environmental Movements, to name a few.

Austin is an applied anthropologist with many years of experience working with tribal governments in the southwestern U.S. She has served as a consultant in the private sector, working with the Navajo Nation and other clients. Dr. Austin also worked on documenting the social impacts of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska and has worked internationally, funded by a Fulbright Grant, to study community-based coastal resource management programs on Palawan Island, Philippines (1997-1998).

Dr. Austin has researched the scholarship of pedagogy, human relationships with the environment, public perceptions of lawns and landscapes, human rights for environmental activists, and integrating anthropology with human ecology for teaching and applied projects. She plans to pursue research on environmental justice issues on the Navajo Nation about the effects of the Gold King Mine toxic spill in the Animas River and associated tributaries.

Before joining Fort Lewis, Dr. Austin was a Florida Gulf Coast University faculty member. Outside of Fort Lewis, Dr. Austin is a partner and co-founder of Applied Cultural Ecology, LLC, which provides services related to heritage resource management for living cultural communities, social impact assessment, public involvement, NEPA compliance, climate change adaptation, and community-based conservation.

Selected publications, presentations, and reports 

  • “Environmental Values and Cultural Models Among Fisherfolk and NGOs in Honda Bay,” in Palawan and its Global Connections, Ateneo de Manila Press, 2014 
  • “Stephanie Mills,” in Modern American Environmentalists, Johns Hopkins Press, 2009 
  • “Indigenous Peoples,” in Encyclopedia of Environment and Society, 2007 
  • “Women’s Environment and Development Organization,” in Encyclopedia of Environment and Society, Sage Publications, 2007 
  • “Yellowstone National Park,” in Encyclopedia of Environment and Society, Sage Publications, 2007 
  • “Effects of Climate Change and Implications for Land Tenure: A Community Case Study from Palawan Island, Philippines,” United Nations Climate Change Conference, and Meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol, Bali, Indonesia, 2007 
  • “Developing Curricula for Undergraduates: Integrating Applied Anthropology with Environmental Studies,” Workshop Facilitator, Society for Applied Anthropology for Annual Meetings, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, 2015 
  • “Integrating Applied Anthropology and Environmental Studies in the Academy,” Society for Applied Anthropology for Annual Meetings, Denver, Colorado, 2013