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Dr. Jennifer Brousseau

PHD FELLOW ALUMNI    |   Global Change Center

VT Alumni August 2023,  Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation

Advisor: Dr. Marc Stern


Jennifer Brousseau successfully defended her PhD dissertation in August 2023. Her seminar was titled "Exploring how social justice is considered in climate adaptation planning and implementation within local governments in the United States." Post-graduation, Jenn will be starting a Postdoc position at Colorado State within their Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute. She will be working to understand how local wildfire protection planning within Colorado influences wildfire mitigation responses. 

Growing up in a small town in Rhode Island, Jennifer developed her initial love of wildlife and the environment from visiting the local zoo and scouting wilderness camps. The significant role these informal environmental education lessons played in shaping her academic journey would later highlight the importance informal learning opportunities can play in fostering environmental awareness and pro-environmental behaviors, piquing Jennifer’s interest in this research area. She attended Boston University as an undergraduate student and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Biology, focusing specifically on anthropology and animal behavior. After finishing her degree, Jennifer began working with Dr. Cheryl Knott, first as a research assistant collecting orangutan behavioral data and later by managing her Gunung Palung Orangutan Research Project.

After two years working in Indonesia, Jennifer began her Master’s in Conservation Project Management at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom, with the plan to return to Indonesia and use the knowledge she had learned to assist NGOs with the dire conservation situation in the region.

In 2016, she began working with Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF), based in Central Indonesian Borneo, as the Orangutan Scientist. Jennifer shifted her focus in 2017 from primatology toward developing and implementing BNF’s Edu-tourism and Eco-tourism Programs at the organization’s peat swamp research sites. These opportunities encompass forest-based high school trips, volunteer programs, university field courses and building local eco-tourism partnerships. Jennifer’s commitment to learn more about how informal education effectively promotes learning and behavioral change emerged as she witnessed dozens of Indonesian and international students observe an orangutan or hold dragonflies for the first time.

This commitment has transformed into a desire to understand and determine how successful informal learning opportunities develop participants’ understanding of conservation threats and solutions, environmental appreciation, and pro-environmental behaviors. She is also interested in how this information can be used to develop best practice informal education program design. To align with her research interests and interdisciplinary background, Jennifer obtained her Ph.D. within the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation (FREC) on Dr. Marc Stern’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) Research in Service to Practice Project. This project investigated how informal science learning occurs within place-based climate change adaptation workshops across the US. In evaluating these climate change adaptation workshops, Jennifer assessed the best aspects of each workshop in presenting climate-relevant science to local stakeholders to improve their ability to make science-informed adaptation decisions and identify effective practices for catalyzing collective action.

Last updated 9/8/2023.