I was on the debate team for all four years of high school, and it was then that I realized I most enjoyed learning about international studies, and that was what I wanted to pursue as a career. So, I majored in international studies as an undergraduate, and my original plan was to earn a Ph.D. in political science. But, over time, I realized I was also interested in environmental issues. I wanted to focus more on issues like climate change, so I made the switch and earned a master’s in geography, with additional training in spatial data analysis. I felt like that was the area where my work could positively impact a lot of people’s lives, because it’s an important thing to be researching and teaching about.
The way I approach teaching is I try to think about what types of things students who are taking my classes might be pursuing as careers in the future, and what they need in order to succeed in those careers. A lot of students who come through my classes are interested in eventually working for places like environmental organizations, sustainability departments of large firms, human rights NGOs, the State Department, and more. As their professor, I try to think about the people who currently have those types of jobs, what those people need to know about, what they need to be able to do, and what I would like them to know about. My classes focus on building skills in critical thinking, data analysis, coding, and synthesizing information, and applying them to real-life cases.
I have a fairly varied slate of classes: Some focus on international affairs, in which we try to understand the connections between different countries across the globe, and others focus on sustainability and the environment, in which we make assessments about whether or not specific programs designed to protect the environment are working and impacting people. I also teach geographic information science courses, one of which is called Mapping World Cities, which is like a hybrid of history and urban geography. We learn about some of the earliest cities and how they evolved and were restructured, and then we look at industrial-era and contemporary cities dealing with issues like large-scale urban migration. We then use computerized mapping and data analysis to look at different cities over time. We use archaeological, census, and crowdsource data to understand why cities are structured the way they are, and students gain experience in using these tools to do spatial analysis and make their own maps.
Most of my research focuses on deforestation at some level. So, it’s either looking at the effectiveness of different types of policy approaches to slow deforestation, or looking at how organizations that are working on deforestation issues interact, or some combination of those two things. My regional focus mostly has been on Southeast Asia, but some of my recent projects have focused on Africa.
Forests are an area where the biodiversity crisis and the climate crisis overlap. Forests, especially tropical ones, are important habitats—they tend to house the biggest chunks of biodiversity per unit area. But they also store a lot of carbon, and they’re an essential part of the climate cycle. Deforestation accounts for about 15% of global emissions—it’s not anywhere near as much as the emissions created by fossil fuels, buildings, heating, cooling, and things like that, but it’s substantial. And, in theory, deforestation is the area where experts believe the needle on emissions could be moved the fastest first. There are basically two different ways to slow deforestation. You can try to protect areas to make them less attractive to be deforested—so, establishing national parks or implementing a payment system to encourage people to not cut down trees. Or, you can try to slow the drivers of deforestation by pulling back the economic signals that lead people to cut down forests. For example, in Indonesia, the big driver of deforestation is the expansion of palm oil plantations. I’ve spent quite a bit of time since grad school looking at, and doing work with, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, which is an industry group that certifies plantations for sustainable palm oil production, and which seems to be moving in the direction of constraining some of the pressures leading to forest loss.
My research sometimes involves impact assessment. So, say a government implemented a program that pays people to reward them for sustainable forest management. Through my research, I might investigate questions like, what kind of impact did that program have on forest loss rates? Or, if a community certifies a forest as sustainable under the Forest Stewardship Council, are those forests seeing less disruption than other forests in the area? A lot of my research tries to figure out, through big datasets and fairly complicated statistical techniques, whether or not programs like these actually do what they set out to do.
The other side to this is, a lot of these types of programs are put together by networks and coalitions of different organizations. Many of them are sustainable development projects that are backed by various donors, and so there’s a network of organizations that’s involved in making certain projects happen. I like to look at how these networks function, how certain projects are selected over others, and how the interactions between these organizations affect whether or not these programs perform well.
The smaller class sizes at Lafayette mean I can interact with students more directly, and that’s led to—through things like the EXCEL Research Scholar program—more students taking an active role in my research projects and contributing in ways that might not have been possible at another institution. The Lafayette community also is a very connected one. I get a lot of students interested in my research who I’ve never had in my classes, but they find me through other students’ social networks. At Lafayette, there’s a network of information exchange that fosters relationships across campus.
In addition to teaching, I coach the Model U.N. team at Lafayette, and it’s often a place where I first meet students who will later on take my classes or work with me on research. It’s a wonderful way for students, especially first-years, to build friendship networks on campus that extend past their immediate networks in their dorms, in a good way. It’s also an opportunity for me to get to know students well and further help them with things like internship searches.
I also periodically have done some research for the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil—some of that work has actually led to some minor internal reforms that have improved their working processes—as well as the Center for National Forestry Research.
Gallemore, C; Delabre, I; Jespersen, K; Liu, T (2022). To see and be seen: Technological change and power in deforestation-driving global value chains. Global Networks, https://doi.org/10.1111/glob.12383
Gallemore, C; Jespersen, K; Olmsted, P (2022). Harnessing relational values for global value chain sustainability: Reframing the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil’s offset mechanism to support smallholders. Ecological Economics, 193, 107303.
Henriksen, LF; Gallemore, C; Kamnde, K; Silvano, P; Mwamfupe, A; Olwig, MF (2022). Networks and institutions in sustainable forest use: Evidence from South-East Tanzania. Social Networks, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socnet.2022.03.002
Marola, E; Schöpfner, J; Gallemore, C; Jespersen, K (2020). The bandwidth problem in telecoupled systems governance: Certifying sustainable winemaking in Australia and Chile. Ecological Economics, 171: 10659. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2020.106592
Gallemore, C; Jespersen, K (2019). Offsetting, insetting, or both? Current trends in sustainable palm oil certification. Sustainability, 11(19): 5393. https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/11/19/5393; Translated into Spanish as Gallemore, C; Jespersen, K (2021). ¿Compensación offsetting, insetting o ambas? Tendencias actuales en la certificación sostenible del aceite de palma. Revista Palmas, 42(4), 50-69.
Gallemore, C; Guisinger, A; Krusse, M; Ruysschaert, D; Jespersen, K (2018). Escaping the “teenage” years: The politics of rigor and the evolution of private environmental standards. Ecological Economics, 152: 76-87.
Di Gregorio, M; Gallemore, CT; Brockhaus, M; Fatorelli, L; Muharrom, E (2017) How institutions and beliefs affect environmental discourse: Evidence from an eight-country survey on REDD+. Global Environmental Change, 45: 133-150.
Gallemore, C; Jespersen, K (2016). Transnational markets for sustainable development governance: The case of REDD+. World Development, 86: 79-94.
Gallemore, C; Di Grigorio, M; Brockhaus, M; Moeliono, M; Prasti H., RD (2015). Transaction costs, power, and multilevel forest governance in Indonesia. Ecological Economics, 114: 168-179.
Gallemore, C; Munroe, DK (2013). Centralization in the global avoided deforestation collaboration network. Global Environmental Change, 23(5): 1199-1210.