evolution is a unifying theme for much of my work and thought. I
conceptualize evolution within an expanded synthesis that includes
thermodynamic self-organization. The study of cultural evolution,
therefore, should be located within study of the self-organization of
interest has led my research in two related directions. In the first
case, I am exploring the structure of ‘culture’, the information produced
by people in a hierarchy of forms that include discourse, media, ritual,
education, research, law, and others. In the second case, I am attempting
to demonstrate the hierarchical organization of economy, people, and
culture that is nested within ecosystems.
both cases I am expanding upon the work of famed ecologist H.T. Odum.
In the first case I am exploring his general theory of the 'information cycle', an
evolutionary-ecological model of the processes of information maintenance
and change. In the second case, I am utilizing the
ecological-economics of emergy that he pioneered
as a tool to demonstrate the human-cultural-ecosystem
hierarchy of which we are all a part.
latest funded research was an application of H.T. Odum’s
'information cycle' to the study of cultural information in discourse.
This is the second detailed demonstration of Odum’s
theory and method to information that is not genetic, but is instead
cultural. And it serves to ‘locate’ the production of discourse
within the production hierarchy of Hualien County, Taiwan.
previous funded research was a study of social
structure and hierarchy within Hualien
It explored in detail the organization of households into hierarchies of
energy capture and convergence within an entire county. It was the
first county-wide analysis of social structural self-organization utilizing
work is interdisciplinary, combining anthropology, ecological economics,
ecosystems science, evolution, world-systems, and complex systems
science. I use principles and methods from systems ecology, including
computer modeling and emergy
analysis (an ecological economics) developed by the Systems Ecology
program at the University of Florida.
have explored the cultural
evolution of China, from foragers to contemporary states, using systems
modelling to generate simple but informative computer models of the pulsing
dynamics generated by the consumption of natural resources. These
ideas are all being applied to my related interest in the historical
ecology of Taiwan.
in cultural evolution and the evolution
of social structure has led me to the study of world-systems
(from Wallerstein). World-systems are a scale of social
self-organization larger than individual states, in which states are joined
hierarchically into a system of production and control. I am
particularly interested in placing world-systems thought within an
have worked as a member of an 8-person interdisciplinary team, studying whale watching ecotourism
My research examined the impacts of ecotourism development on the local
people, culture and ecology of the effected areas. My dissertation
research was a similar study of eco-dive tourism impacts
on the island of Bonaire
in the south Caribbean Sea.
other major area of academic interest is cognitive science, especially the
study of cultural
models. As a graduate student advisor I have assisted one student
with an exploration of ‘place identity’ as it represented in cultural
models in two communities in southwestern Taiwan.
I am currently advising one student in an
exploration of the place of pigs in the cultural models of Truku people in the mountains of Taiwan.
Cultural models theory intersects with my current research into cultural
information as information cycles.
an ongoing research focus of mine is our human presence in the biosphere
and the energy, material, and information processes that are shaping that
presence. Of special importance are the big, slow curves of natural
resource availability, perhaps the most important of which is oil. Social
processes should be understood in light of changing resource flows.
Relating society and the production curve of oil, H.T. Odum made a number
of predictions about the past and coming periods of growth, transition
('peak oil'), and descent. His hope was that humanity could discover
a 'prosperous way down'. With Mary Logan I
helped start a blog to explore
this topic. And there is now video (here) of a talk related to these
issues that I gave at a great little conference on Architecture and Energy.
I can be
reached here: email@example.com.