Are COVID-19 environmental improvements permanent?

During the coronavirus pandemic societies are re-thinking how they do things. Some of the changes also have environmental benefits. But will those benefits last?

I was interviewed in the Appalachian Mountain Club Outdoors Magazine on that question. Read it here.

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Pricing Nature Reduces Monetary Support for Conservation

Great work by my former student, and now assistant professor Sandra Goff shows that people will contribute LESS to conserving nature if they are told that nature has a price.

Implication: Don’t put a price tag on natural systems that need protection. Sandra is now an assistant professor at Skidmore College in New York.

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The Evolution of Co-operatives

Here is a nicely edited video of my recent MacPherson Lecture at the Canadian Centre for the Study of Cooperatives on “The Role of Cooperation in the Evolution of Co-operatives,” in which I attempt to highlight the role of cooperation in understanding organizational evolution.

Dr. Waring teaches at the University of Maine. Learn more:

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Dr. Waring to give Annual MacPherson Lecture at the University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Waring will give the Annual MacPherson Lecture at the Canadian Centre for the Study of Cooperatives at the University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Waring’s Lecture, entitled “The Role of Cooperation in the Evolution of Co-operatives,” will explore the science of cooperation and draw connections for how cooperatives can leverage the recent behavioral and evolutionary research on cooperation.  Co-operatives rely on cooperation, and manage it daily. However, co-operative research and management have yet to truly take advantage of the behavioral science of human cooperation and the findings of evolutionary biology and the social sciences. Dr. Waring will give a guided tour of the factors that drive cooperation and describe a research program to leverage the science of cooperation for the benefit of co-operatives anywhere.

The MacPherson Talks are annual invited lectures held at the Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives in honor the late Dr. Ian MacPherson. MacPherson was a leading light of the international co-operative movement, exemplifying the relationship between Canadian co-operative academics and co-op practitioners. Learn more about the Centre:


Dr. Waring will also give a presentation on his sustainability research entitled “The Evolution of Social-Ecological Systems.” To solve the modern environmental predicament we must understand how humans created it. Beyond emitting carbon, over-populating, polluting, or over-consuming, humans have come to dominate the planet, surviving in all terrestrial environments from the tropics to the arctic. We have achieved this through a mix of cooperation and cumulative adaptation to the environment. Dr. Waring argues that the factors that make the human species special, ultrasociality and cumulative cultural adaptation, also present the best and only hope for surviving and managing modern ecological crises. This talk will explain how human culture and cooperation both evolve, and how their dynamics play out at multiple levels of social organization in different social ecological systems, with detailed examples from around the world. Finally, Dr. Waring explains how to harness the power of human cooperation and cultural adaptation to achieve environmental sustainability.

Dr. Waring holds a joint appointment in the School of Economics and the Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions at the University of Maine. Learn more about his research and teaching here:

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New research suggests co-operatives exhibit greater economic altruism than traditional businesses

New research from School of Economics provides experimental evidence that cooperative businesses harbor greater economically relevant behavioral cooperation than comparable businesses. The research, conducted with recent graduate students Ethan Tremblay and Afton Hupper was recently published in the Journal of Co-operative Organization and Management. For the project, the research team conducted behavioral economic experiments with shoppers at a food coop and a traditional grocery in a small town in Maine. The economic experiment measured “unenforced altruism,” or the willingness of shoppers to give a some of their experimental payment to another anonymous shopper at the same store.

The team found not only that behavioral cooperation was higher among co-op shoppers than those at a traditional grocery, and that this remained true when controlling for age, sex, and education. These findings, if supported in further studies, will have important implications for how we manage and regulate co-operatives.

Get the paper online: Tremblay, Hupper and Waring (2019) Co-operatives exhibit greater behavioral cooperation than comparable businesses: Experimental evidence.

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