Rethinking Rural Anthropology: Engaging Traditional Communities to Address Climate Change Challenges Effectively

  • 09 Mar 2022
  • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Online via Zoom (must register to receive log in information)


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IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This talk will be presented online using Zoom. Registration is required before 3:00 pm on Wednesday, March 09, 2022. Log in information for Zoom will be emailed to those who have registered with their registration confirmation as well as by 3:00 pm on Wednesday, March 09, 2022.

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Date: Wednesday, 09 March 2022
Location:  Online meeting via Zoom
Time: 7:00 pm

YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/ThTZJnl3bPk

Rethinking Rural Anthropology: Engaging Traditional Communities to Address Climate Change Challenges Effectively

About the talk:

Dr. Jerry Moles will share lessons learned in empowering rural communities in Sri Lanka and Central Appalachia to address environmental degradation, climate change, and shifts in market demands.  By integrating local knowledge with contemporary environmental, agriculture, and social sciences, landscapes and watersheds become more resilient, household financial security is enhanced, and community services improved.  Employing learning approaches in both Sri Lanka and Central Appalachia, two research-oriented NGOs were created to engage communities in interpreting present circumstances and designing means to take advantage of the environmental endowments, the knowledge and skills of the people, services offered by existing organizations, and demands for high value agriculture and forestry products.

In Sri Lanka, the focus was on forest gardens that had served villagers for more than 3,000 years and adapted to three European colonial powers plus entering into international markets for tropical products including coffee and tea.  As plantation agriculture failed, the landless poor rushed onto the abandoned lands to produce annual crops for food and local markets, further exacerbating the loss of soils and water-holding capacities of lands.  Taking the traditional management knowledge for the forest gardens and integrating it with evaluations from the various sciences, new management approaches were created, culminating in the creation of farmer handbooks guiding farmers across the Island in improving practices. 

In Central Appalachia, the focus is on improving forage management, protection of watersheds, and entering into high value agriculture markets.  Engaging with Virginia Tech, Virginia Farm Bureau, and USDA and state agencies to answer community generated questions, present management is reevaluated and practical solutions demonstrated on the ground.  New businesses are being formed by local people to put in place needed facilities to participate in the new markets.

Interestingly, both the Sri Lanka and Central Appalachia projects have caught the attention of the Global EverGreening Alliance and serve as examples to increase vegetation cover internationally. 

The Speaker: 

Jerry received his doctorate from Stanford University. He was a professor at the University of California at Davis and Pomona College and has been an Invited Lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University. He continues in global and national leadership roles as Chair of the Board of the NeoSynthesis Research Centre, Ltd. in Sri Lanka planning and developing financially beneficial and environmentally sensitive enterprises. He was a Founding Board Member of the Watershed Research and Training Center Inc. in Hayfork, California developing collaborative ventures among local entrepreneurs, state and federal agencies, local governments, and financiers. He was the Founder of Grayson LandCare, Inc. and the Founding Board Member of SustainFloyd, Inc., and the International Analog Forestry Network in Costa Rica. He serves on the advisory board and committees for Secretariat for International Landcare, Ltd. in Australia and is a Fellow of the Global EverGreening Alliance.  At Virginia Tech, he has served as advisor to the Appalachian Foodshed Project, the Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition, and the Center for Natural Resource Evaluation and Decision Support.   Jerry has written many successful proposals and organized meetings for the United Nations programs to protect global natural resources while also ensuring the inclusion of the world’s indigenous peoples. He is the author of publications and treatises on the importance of preserving natural habitats, encouraging wise traditional land use systems, and the meshing of traditional cultures with environmental protection.


Emily Vargas-Barón

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