Rebeca Rivera

Rebeca Rivera


B.A., Anthropology, University of Maryland
M.A., Environmental Anthropology, University of Washington
Graduate Certificate, Urban Ecology, University of Washington
Ph.D., Environmental Anthropology, University of Washington

Office: Truly House
Email: rebeca@uw.edu


My environmental studies courses focus on the intersections between humans and the environment, sustainability, and research methodology. Students examine topics from multiple disciplinary perspectives to understand the context of the environmental issues we face, their connections to cultural practices and institutions, and the potential for sustainable solutions. My goal is for students to apply course concepts outside the classroom, where they interact with their world--both regionally and globally--as responsible citizens and environmental stewards.

The classroom is a place for students to engage with and apply academic content through rich dialogue and experiential learning. Inside the classroom; on and off campus field trips; students participate in primary research projects and simulations. For example, in BIS 396 Garbage! Waste and Sustainability, students collect and analyze campus waste as well as visit our local landfill and recycling facility. In BIS 490 Urban Agriculture students tour urban farms, research an academic dialogue on a specific area of urban agriculture, and propose new research. Students in Introduction to Sustainable Practices have the opportunity to work with a community based organization in order to gain skills and experience in applying concepts from the classroom to local on-the-ground sustainability work.

Recent Courses Taught

BIS 240 Introduction to Sustainable Practices
BIS 396 Topics in Sustainability: Garbage! Waste & Sustainability
BIS 410 Topics in Qualitative Inquiry: Ethnography
BIS 459 Conservation and Sustainable Development
BIS 490 Advanced Seminar: Urban Agriculture


How do we, as a society, achieve greater sustainability? In what ways do institutional structures influence sustainable behavior?  My current research focuses on the role of community institutions—from gift economies to urban gardens-- in promoting sustainable practices to understand the forms of institutional practices are better able to foster sustainable behavior. I have also performed extensive  research on sustainable consumption and practices in urban intentional communities and processes and patterns of second home development in Washington State.

On campus I work with students to understand campus waste and opportunities for sustainable changes. I supervise student collection of data on the types of materials, campus waste stream contamination rates, and material culture found on campus waste streams. Through experiments and monitoring we are working to understand strategies that may reduce waste stream contamination, increase diversion rates from the landfill, and reduce total waste production.


I am a founding faculty member of the UW Bothell Campus Garden. Over the past few years I have worked with students, staff, faculty, and administrators to propose and build a campus garden. The Campus Garden is a living/learning laboratory for sustainable food production. Additionally, through curricular and individual engagement the garden is a place for students to connect with the natural world, strengthen a sense of place, practice collective decision making, and connect with the wider campus community. Please see our Facebook page for more information.