Catherine Ashcraft, Ph.D.

Catherine Ashcraft, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Areas of Research and Interest

I am interested in the human dimensions of ecological systems. I focus on how environmental policies and institutions are negotiated and designed, how they respond to change, and are renegotiated. I apply this research to develop actionable recommendations for negotiators to better manage conflict and uncertainty and for international and global institutions to promote sustainability and environmental justice. I am particularly interested in freshwater systems and the nexus between water, energy, climate and agriculture. I am eager to build bridges between environmental research, teaching and practice. Current research projects include adaptive and integrated approaches to flood risk management in Europe and New England, institutions for managing conflict and uncertainty in the Danube and Nile Rivers, and international water diplomacy. I’m currently co-editing a book with Dr. Tamar Mayer on The Politics of Fresh Water, which is under contract with Routledge/Earthscan. I am also a faculty fellow at UNH’s Carsey School of Public Policy and a Senior Researcher at the Center for Conflict Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Prospective Students

I am always looking for graduate students who are motivated and passionate about interdisciplinary work on the human dimensions of ecological systems. I strive to support students on my research grants, but also expect and work with students to seek external sources of funding. If you are interested in applying to work with me, please email me your CV and a brief description of your background and interests.


  • 2011 Ph.D., Urban and Regional Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 2002 M. Environmental Science, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University
  • 1998 B.A. (cum laude) Biology and Philosophy of Science, University of Pennsylvania

Courses Taught

  • NR 724/824 Resolving Environmental Conflicts

Selected Publications

Ashcraft, C., Mayer, T. The Politics of Fresh Water: Access, identity and conflict. (Under contract with Routledge/Earthscan, 2015).

Ashcraft, C. Adaptive Institutions: The Danube and the Nile. The Politics of Fresh Water: Access, identity and conflict. C.M. Ashcraft, T. Mayer (Eds.). (Under contract with Routledge/Earthscan, 2015).

Ashcraft, C.M., Susskind, L.E., Islam, S. (2013). The Indopotamia Role-Play Simulation. In S. Islam and L.E. Susskind. Water Diplomacy: A negotiated approach to managing complex water networks. (pp.269-314). New York: RFF Press/Routledge.

Ashcraft, C. (2011) Adaptive Governance of Contested Rivers: A political journey into the uncertain. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT.

Susskind, L., Ashcraft, C. (2010). How to Reach Fairer and More Sustainable Agreements. In J. Dore, J. Robinson, & M. Smith (Eds.) Negotiate: Reaching agreements over water (pp.59-78). Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. Available in English, Lao, Khmer and Vietnamese.

Ashcraft, C. (2004). Implementing Adaptive Management in the Cape Wind Development Controversy: the use of joint fact finding in science-intensive disputes, MIT-USGS Science Impact Collaborative.

Selected Research Reports and Conference Presentations

Ashcraft, C. Institutions for Managing Conflict in International Rivers: A case of form fetish? To be presented at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting, Panel Session: Fetishes of Water Governance, Chicago, IL, April 2015.

Ashcraft, C. Negotiating Conflicts over Adaptive and Integrated Flood Management in Europe. Presented at the MIIS Center for Conflict Studies Conference, Conflicts Over Water and Building Bridges With Water, Monterey, CA, November 2014.

Ashcraft, C. Adaptive Governance of Contested Rivers. Presented at the Global Water Systems Project International Conference, Water and the Anthropocene: Challenges for Science and Governance, Bonn, Germany, May 2013.

Ashcraft, C. A Survey of Institutional Features of International Lakes.  Presented at Workshop 8: Large Lakes as Drivers for Regional Development at the World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden, August, 2006.

Zartman, I. William, Ashcraft, C. Institutional Survey of International Sea and Lake Regimes. Paper presented at CaspiLog I, organized by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and the Hollings Center for Intercultural Dialog. Istanbul, Turkey, May 2006.

Ashcraft, C. Water Quality in Sodom Brook: An investigation into the effects of sampling timing and choice of indicator bacteria on water quality assessment, and an identification of a stream reach contributing high loads of pathogens to a subwatershed of the urbanized Quinnipiac watershed. Master’s Thesis. Submitted to the Connecticut Sea Grant at the Yale Center for Coastal and Watershed Systems and the Yale Hixon Center for Urban Ecology. May, 2002.

Catherine Ashcraft
James Hall, Room 134
Durham, NH 03824