After an international search last fall, the department is delighted to welcome Dr. Pranietha Mudliar as our newest faculty member. Pranietha brings an international perspective to the theory and practice of environmental policy, and will be teaching a variety of policy-related courses for the department, including a brand new course in the fall, “U.S. Environmental and Resource Policy.”
Pranietha says that growing up close to the Western Ghats in India and trekking to the hills and forts surrounding her home city of Pune, brought her closer to nature in more ways than one. “These hills would come alive as my mother would relate thrilling tales of battles to secure the city from the Mughal and the English marauders and point out how military strategists exploited the topography as their natural ally to win battles,” she says. “These treks not only cultivated a love for being in the great outdoors, but also made me appreciate the ways in which people and environments formed mutually constitutive relationships.”
In school, she found herself unconsciously gravitating towards projects that would deal with the environment and she worked on raising awareness about the challenges that air and noise pollution posed in Pune. Although Pranietha received an undergraduate degree in biotechnology from the University of Pune, she felt she “could no longer ignore my natural urge for studying environmental issues.” After earning a Masters in Environmental Sciences from the University of Pune, she came to the U.S. in 2011 to pursue a Ph.D. in Environment and Natural Resources at the Ohio State University (OSU).
In 2016, she joined the University of Denver (DU) as a postdoctoral fellow in Environmental Justice and Sustainability. There, she collaborated with colleagues to conduct research on fisheries governance in Lake Victoria in East Africa. Much of Pranietha’s work on governance of the commons has centered on watershed management in India and the United States and more recently focused on fisheries governance in East Africa. Extending the field of the commons, she is now studying collective action and civic engagement among students on college campuses as a “commons”. “I am exploring research and service-learning strategies to link civic engagement on campuses to course content in the classroom,” Pranietha says. “For instance, students from my class [at the University of Denver] on Just Sustainabilities participated in the City Nature Challenge (CNC) 2018 using an app called iNaturalist to identify biodiversity on campus. Participating in the CNC, students became aware of biodiversity (or its lack thereof) on the college campus, triggering conversations about how to influence landscape management on the campus.”
When she’s not in the classroom you might find Pranietha browsing bookstores and libraries, cooking, or hiking. She looks forward to exploring the many hiking trails the local landscape offers.