Josh Morse – RSENR

Josh is a PhD candidate at the Rubenstein School and a Gund Graduate Fellow. His interest in people and qualitative material emerged from his natural science background as a wildlife biologist. Josh’s work on conservation advocacy initiatives during his masters evolved into a broader interest in how people relate to, think about, or find satisfaction and meaning in observing and being with landscapes and wildlife. Josh’s current work at UVM explores Vermonters’ relationships with coyotes and coyote management, an issue that has spurred recent and contentious policy conflict in the state.

“My hope is that getting a better sense of what the non-material values that Vermonters hold around this species are might shed some light on why it’s so contentious, and also might provide some ways to at least talk about how to work around that tension.”

In cooperation with Vermont teachers and students, Josh enlists high schoolers as active researchers and collaborators on this project. The students serve as interview gatherers, or citizen scientists, collecting short stories about Vermonters’ relationships with coyotes. 

“I feel very strongly like my PhD should be a public good. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can make qualitative research as valuable to the communities where the work is happening as possible. I think that making the work part of an education project, and not ‘I teach you these concrete facts,’ but ‘this work hopefully gives you some skill building opportunities, and hopefully positions you, students, to be active citizens in ways that are interesting to you,’ is a pretty good pathway if it actually does pitch in to those benefits.”

In addition to his current research, Josh continues to consult for land conservancies, works closely with policymakers, serves on the boards of the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain and Back Country Hunters and Anglers (Vermont Chapter), and freelances as an environmental writer.

Learn more about Josh’s research at the University of Vermont, or read his popular press writing on Yellowstone’s wildlife migrations and deer hunting in Vermont.