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Fulbright Scholar Walker DePuy

Fulbright Year: 2016-2017
Country: Indonesia
Proposal Type: Research Grant
Field of Study: Anthropology
Proposal Title: "Social Safeguards and Interpreting 'Rights' in an Indonesian REDD+ Project"
UGA Degree Program: PhD in Integrative Conservation and Anthropology
Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia

Walker DePuy has spent much of his life in the open air, whether as a wetlands technician in his home state of Virginia or out west in Washington’s forests. This passion grew as a college student interested in how indigenous communities are involved in sustainable conservation and development efforts.

During his Fulbright year, Walker will investigate the expression of rights-based conservation in an emerging forest carbon project in the Berau District of East Kalimantan, Indonesia. There he hopes to better understand environmental governance efforts on climate change, community development, and conservation goals, and observe how local communities are involved in them.

“Ultimately, I hope my work can help inform more effective and equitable conservation policies and increase the visibility and capacity of underrepresented Indonesian actors in conservation science and practice,” he says.

Walker, a Ph.D. candidate at UGA who holds a master’s degree in environmental justice from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in sociology/anthropology from Carleton College, plans to train and then work with local university students as field assistants, he says. He’ll also share his research results with various stakeholders in Indonesia, offering presentations in the communities he’ll be working with, as well as at local universities and conservation non-governmental organization (NGO) offices in Jakarta.

“I am most looking forward to spending a year living in Berau District and learning from local community members there,” Walker says. “Berau District is one of the last heavily forested areas of East Kalimantan and houses an incredible range of biodiversity, including some of the world’s largest orangutan populations. Living with forest-dwelling communities there, learning about their lives, landscapes, and histories, and sharing the different kinds of knowledge we possess will be the most rewarding aspect of my work by far.”

When he completes his research, Walker will return to UGA, write his dissertation, and, after graduation, look for a research position with a university or conservation NGO.

“With such work grounded in a desire to build relationships between both peoples and nations, I feel Fulbright is an especially powerful opportunity for me to further develop a career around the pursuit of a more culturally and ecologically just, sustainable, and pluralistic world,” he says.

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