Professor and Director, Environmental Policy and Decision Making
Rachel DeMotts’ teaching and research interests lie in the environmental politics of sub-Saharan Africa. She studies the ways in which people participate in and are affected by conservation, including human-wildlife conflict, peace parks and trans-frontier protected areas, livelihood impacts of tourism, community-based conservation, and gendered differences in natural resource access. DeMotts has worked and lived in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Mozambique, conducting research and working with local organizations that try to ensure local residents benefit from parks and tourism. Her projects have included studying how women in Botswana and Namibia benefit from weaving baskets to sell to tourists. Another project looked at the human-elephant conflict in Kazungula, Botswana, where local residents face the pressures of nearby wildlife. Aiming to provide insights, she wrote “Whose Elephants? Conserving, compensating, and competing in Northern Botswana,” in Society and Natural Resources (2012). She also is the author of The Challenges of Transfrontier Conservation in Southern Africa: The Park Came After Us (Lexington Books, 2017). Other countries of expertise include Swaziland and Zimbabwe. In 2016 DeMotts co-directed a water and sanitation project in Botswana, funded by the Paul G. Allen Foundation, to improve the quality and availability of the water supply for village residents. DeMotts is associate editor of a new journal called The Arrow.