Courtney Hammond Wagner – RSENR

Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources PhD 

Gund Institute of Economics for the Anthropocene Graduate Fellow


“Having done some […] survey work before, I realized that there’s so much behind those numbers and am I actually asking the right questions, or are the numbers actually representing what I think they’re representing? […] Giving some weighted credence to the fact that people are experiencing their lives and they have feelings and thoughts about what’s happening and why, and that’s valid and important [is necessary].”

Courtney’s dissertation research investigated the influence of water quality policy on farmer decision making behavior. She used a mixed-methods approach to compare two regions in New Zealand with the state of Vermont, combining quantitative and qualitative techniques. Courtney’s research explored the effectiveness of incentive-based water quality policies in Vermont and practice-based policies in New Zealand. She examined what variables other than water policies might influence farmer nutrient management decisions in her three regions of study. Courtney used a socio-ecological framework to analyze 38 farmer interviews and map mental models that link farmer behaviors and water quality outcomes. This mental-model mapping technique allowed Courtney to evaluate the extent to which different factors influence farmer decisions, and their subsequent impact on water quality. Courtney hopes that her research can assist in more effective design and implementation of water policies.

Find more about Courtney and her research here.

Contact Courtney at: