School Welcomes Stanley Asah


Stanley Asah is one of fourteen new faculty members recruited by the School over the past three years; he was appointed Assistant Professor in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Management in September 2009 following a nationwide search.  Asah received a BS in Agricultural Mechanization and Operations Management from the University of Dschang in Cameroon in 1999, an MS in Water Resources Science from the University of Minnesota in 2003, and a PhD in Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Management from the University of Minnesota in 2006. He came to the UW from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, where he was a research and policy analyst.

Asah’s teaching and research interests explore human values, attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, behaviors, and socio-political organization to inform natural resource management and conservation. For his doctoral work he studied the resilience of human-environment systems, including the nature and causes of conflicts among water user groups in the Lake Chad basin in Africa — once the largest lake in Africa, but now reduced to less than five percent of its surface of 40 years ago.  

Asah’s interest in human-environment interactions spans from how to connect people — especially children — to the outdoors, to the impact of smoke from wildland fires on small communities in eastern Washington.  He is currently researching how cultural ecosystem services (values) provided by U.S. national forests might play a role in promoting a lifelong involvement in nature-based activities and environmental stewardship. He is also finding ways to use psychological cues via social marketing and persuasive communication to create and sustain environmentally significant behaviors such as energy conservation and efficiency on the UW campus and beyond.

Asah is interested in the politics of natural resource use and management. “Power relations influence the way we claim and use natural resources,” says Asah.  “For example, predicted impacts of global climate change on water resources in the Pacific Northwest presuppose intensified conflict among users and uses. Understanding and accounting for hydropolitics — the politics surrounding the values attached to and the allocation of water — could enhance our ability to adapt to climate-induced changes.”

Asah uses a range of research and analytic approaches, including interviews, field observations, surveys, Q-methodology, multivariate statistics, and latent variable structural equation modeling.  He teaches courses in society and sustainable environments, environmental sociology, social science research design and methods, and environmental and resources assessment.

Asah is from Cameroon, West Africa,  the first of six children, two sisters and three brothers. He met his wife, RaeLynn Asah, in graduate school in Minnesota, her native state. They live in Bothell from where he bikes on the Burke Gilman trail to the UW. He loves the rain, “a sign of abundance with every spot getting at least a drop,” and enjoys playing soccer and “hanging out” with people — "hanging out with and studying people is as fascinating as it gets,” he says!


Assistant Professor Stanley Asah. Photo: Mary Levin.