Merrill "Mez" Baker-Medard
Office
Franklin Env Ctr-Hillcrest 215
Tel
(802) 443-5519
Email
mbakermedard@middlebury.edu
Office Hours
Spring 2022: Fridays 1:00 - 3:00pm and by appointment

B.A. Smith College; Ph.D. University of California Berkeley

Areas of Interest: Interdisciplinary research focused on the intersection of human geography, conservation science, environmental politics, and gender studies.

Mez Baker-Médard is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies.  Her research broadly explores how different natural resource governance strategies influence conflict arising at the interface of extractive industry and biodiversity conservation.  She is especially interested in how the benefits and burdens of these conflicts are spread across different sectors of society in relation to gender, race, class, and nationality.

Professor Baker-Médard’s research focuses on marine fisheries management in Madagascar, specifically looking at how access to and control over marine resources is constructed and contested in various locales extending from coastal villages to international policy arenas.  By examining state-managed, co-managed and community-managed conservation projects, her research investigates how different configurations of authority (the capacity of politico-legal institutions to influence other social actors) transform people’s understanding of and claims to natural resources. 

Professor Baker-Médard has teaching experience in three other U.S. Universities and two Malagasy Universities.  Her interests in conservation and social justice have led her to work with international conservation organizations such as the Wildlife Conservation Society, Conservation International, and the World Wildlife Fund as well as community-based organizers based in Madagascar, South Africa and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Her other interests include snowboarding, rock climbing, softball, pottery, and dancing Salegy.

Courses Taught

Course Description

Gender Health Environment
Growing concern for the protection of the environment and human health has led policy makers and scholars to consider ways in which gender, class, and race and other forms of identity mediate human-environment interactions. In this course we will explore how access to, control over, and distribution of resources influence environmental and health outcomes both in terms of social inequities and ecological decline. Specific issues we will cover include: ecofeminism, food security, population, gendered conservation, environmental toxins, climate change, food justice, and the green revolution. We will draw comparisons between different societies around the globe as well as look at dynamics between individuals within a society. The majority of case studies are drawn from Sub Saharan Africa and Asia, however some comparisons are also made with the United States. (National/Transnational Feminisms) 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

Requirements

CMP, SAF, SOC

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Course Description

Conservation and Environmental Policy
This course examines conservation and environmental policy in the United States. In order to better understand the current nature of the conservation and environmental policy process, we will begin by tracing the development of past ideas, institutions, and policies related to this policy arena. We will then focus on contemporary conservation and environmental politics and policy making—gridlock in Congress, interest group pressure, the role of the courts and the president, and a move away from national policy making—toward the states, collaboration, and civil society. 3 hrs. lect./disc. (crosslisted with PSCI 0211 Fall 2018 only)

Terms Taught

Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

Requirements

AMR, SOC

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Course Description

Community-Engaged Environmental Studies Practicum
In this course students work in small groups with one of a variety of partners and organizations to complete a semester-long, community-engaged project. Project themes vary by term and typically focus on local and regional environmental issues that have broader application. Projects rely on students’ creativity, interdisciplinary perspectives, skills, and knowledge developed through their previous work. The project is guided by a faculty member and carried out with a high degree of independence by the students. Students will prepare for and direct their project work through readings and discussion, independent research, collaboration with project partners, and consultation with external experts. The course may also include workshops focused on developing key skills (e.g., interviewing, public speaking, video editing). The project culminates in a public presentation of students’ final products, which may various forms such as written reports, policy white papers, podcasts, or outreach materials. (Open to Juniors and Seniors) (ENVS 0112, ENVS 0211, ENVS 0215, GEOG 0120 or GEOG 0150) 3 hrs. sem./3 hrs. lab

Terms Taught

Spring 2020, Fall 2021

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Course Description

Transnational Feminist Conservation
In this course we explore a transnational feminist approach to conservation. We will start by delving into the masculinist history of conservation, and reviewing a set of theories and vocabularies focused on gender, as well as race, class, and ability as key sites of power that effect both human and non-human bodies and ecological processes, from coral reefs to the arctic tundra. We will compare case studies across multiple regions globally on topics such as conservation via population control, feminist food, community-based conservation, and feminist-indigenous approaches to inquiry. We will debate feminist science, examining the conflicting epistemic foundations of objective versus situated knowledge. We will hone our writing skills in a variety of genres including blogs, academic essays, poems, and zines. (ENVS 0211, ENVS 0215 or ENVS/GSFS 209) 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Spring 2022

Requirements

AAL, CMP, CW, SAF, SOC

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Course Description

Independent Study
In this course, students (non-seniors) carry out an independent research or creative project on a topic pertinent to the relationship between humans and the environment. The project, carried out under the supervision of a faculty member with related expertise who is appointed in or affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program, must involve a significant amount of independent research and analysis. The expectations and any associated final products will be defined in consultation with the faculty advisor. Students may enroll in ENVS 0500 no more than twice for a given project. (Approval only)

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Senior Independent Study
In this course, seniors complete an independent research or creative project on a topic pertinent to the relationship between humans and the environment. During the term prior to enrolling in ENVS 0700, a student must discuss and agree upon a project topic with a faculty advisor who is appointed in or affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program and submit a brief project proposal to the Director of Environmental Studies for Approval. The expectations and any associated final products will be defined in consultation with the faculty advisor. Students may enroll in ENVS 0700 as a one-term independent study OR up to twice as part of a multi-term project, including as a lead-up to ENVS 0701 (ES Senior Thesis) or ENVS 0703 (ES Senior Integrated Thesis). (Senior standing; Approval only)

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Senior Thesis
This course is the culminating term of a multi-term independent project, resulting in a senior thesis on a topic pertinent to the relationship between humans and the environment. Approval to enroll is contingent on successful completion of at least one term (and up to two) of ENVS 0700 and the approval of the student’s thesis committee. The project, carried out under the supervision of a faculty advisor who is appointed in or affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program, will result in a substantial piece of scholarly work that will be presented to other ENVS faculty and students in a public forum and defended before the thesis committee. (Senior standing; ENVS major; ENVS 0112, ENVS 0211, ENVS 0215, GEOG 0120, and ENVS 0700; Approval only)

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Senior Integrated Thesis
This course is the culminating term of a multi-term independent project, resulting in a senior thesis on a topic pertinent to the relationship between humans and the environment and that meaningfully integrates perspectives, methodologies, and/or approaches from multiple academic divisions (e.g., humanities/arts, natural sciences, social sciences). Approval to enroll is contingent on successful completion of at least one term (and up to two) of ENVS 0700 and approval of the Environmental Studies Program. The project, carried out under the co-supervision of two faculty advisors from different academic divisions of whom at least one is appointed in or affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program, will result in a substantial piece of scholarly work that will be presented to other ENVS faculty and students in a public forum and defended before the thesis committee. (Open to Senior ENVS majors) (Approval Only)

Terms Taught

Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Winter 2022, Winter 2023

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Course Description

Sea Turtles to Sharks
In the past two decades there has been an exponential increase in the number and size of marine protected areas (MPAs) worldwide. MPAs are used to aid fisheries, protect biodiversity, and stabilize coastal ecosystems. In this course we will engage an interdisciplinary approach, drawing from the fields of conservation biology, political ecology, and anthropology, to investigate MPA design and effectiveness in multiple locales globally. Specific issues we will investigate include: marine organism life-cycle traits, connectivity, land-sea linkages, predator-prey dynamics, centralized versus decentralized MPA governance, gendered marine property, indigenous rights, and “sea grabbing.” We will draw comparisons among MPA projects and examine dynamics between individuals within a given MPA project. The course will consist of lectures and classroom discussions. This course counts as a social science cognate for environmental studies majors.

Terms Taught

Winter 2020

Requirements

SOC, WTR

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Course Description

Environmental Intimacies, Injustice and the Politics of Care
Pleasure activism is a framework for social and environmental change. It is an invitation to better know ourselves and see how embracing what brings us joy is central to dismantling sexist, racist and homophobic structures of oppression. This course explores how self-love, healing and harm reduction are necessary for our liberation and survival on an unjust and warming planet. This course asks what it takes to move from a place of despair to action, and how might new avenues of connection and consent be forged across social and geographic difference? We will read Adrienne Maree Brown’s Pleasure Activism, Sarah Jaquette Ray’s A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety, and a suite of other scholars and activists focused on related work including climate justice, queer ecology, ecosexuality, solidarity work, feminist ethics of care, and re-imagining human-nature relations.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

Global Gender and Sexuality Studies Independent Project
(Approval Only)

Terms Taught

Fall 2021, Fall 2022

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Publications