Michelle Y. Merrill, Ph.D.
specialist in Education for Sustainability
PhD in Biological Anthropology, Duke University
BA in Anthropology, UC Santa Cruz
How can we connect with, learn from and teach each other, so together we can co-create a regenerative, resilient culture?
I began my academic career as a primatologist. I am now a passionate sustainability advocate seeking ways to connect with, teach and learn from others so that we might co-create a resilient, regenerative future. My goal with this blog is to write about things that interest me as a thinker and scholar (and yes, that sounds pretentious, but I think I’ve earned it at this point). So look over my biography (below) and see if the things that interest me are also interesting to you. If so, welcome! If not… well… diversity is the soul of resilience, so to each her own.
I’ve taught and lectured on evolutionary biology, social networks, anthropology, sustainability and communication for groups ranging from junior high school students to advanced university and professional audiences. I’ve studied animal behavior, evolutionary biology, tropical ecology, and social networks. I’m fascinated with applied complexity science, resilience thinking, and the future of technology and society.
In 2014, I began a postdoctoral research fellowship in the Environment and Sustainability Research Cluster of Humanities and Social Sciences at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, working on issues of sustainability and pedagogy, including education for sustainable development, emphasizing higher education in Southeast Asia. I am the main organizer for a community of practice on Education for Sustainability in Asia, and lead editor on a book to be published in 2017.
From 2006-2013, I taught Anthropology courses at Cabrillo College (including “Surviving the Future: The (Re)Emergence of Sustainable Cultures”). I received the John D. Hurd Award for Teaching Excellence at Cabrillo College in 2013. I was the faculty advisor for the Cabrillo Sustainability Council (student club), an active member of the Cabrillo College Climate Initiative Task Force, and supported students in activities and independent studies related to campus sustainability.
In 2005-2006, I was involved in the replication project for the Digital Bridge Academy at Cabrillo College, developing the pilot version of the instructor training materials for what would become the Academy for College Excellence FELI program. In this work, I learned more about experiential and team-based education and the experience of at-risk students in community colleges. I also worked occasionally as an eco-literacy consultant with Emergent Systems.
My PhD dissertation (Duke University, 2004) was on orangutan sociality and the question of orangutan cultures. My graduate research centered on the evolution of cooperation, social learning, culture and the origins of technology through the study of non-human primates. I studied bonobos (Pan paniscus) at the Language Research Center and in a rainforest in Congo (Zaire) and orangutans (Pongo abelii) in the Sumatran rainforests.
I’ve managed several other blogs, including one for my teaching (Michelle Merrill’s Cabrillo Anthropology Classes), another for Cabrillo College’s sustainability initiatives (Cabrillo GreenSteps Blog), and one for my writing and things related to science fiction (The Imagined Worlds of Michelle Yvonne Merrill).
Finally, I am a nerd. Dyed-in-the-wool, knows a D20 from a Dyson Sphere, nerd. Huge fan of Joss Whedon (can recite many Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly episodes chapter and verse) and Babylon 5, still happy to buy comic books or play MMORPGs, was in a Rocky Horror Picture Show cast for years, love to browse NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day, attend CONTACT conferences, and wish I had more time to read speculative fiction novels. Actually, also writing a speculative fiction novel, or more like two, in all that free time I imagine I must have in some alternate reality.
So, my goal is to share that with y’all. Let’s talk… (connect with me)
Oh yeah, all text on this site is under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, with love.