Skip to main content

Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies

Email: ctw(@)

Phone: (919) 966-5588

Fax: (919) 962-1613

Office: Alumni 409-D

My research focuses on the human ecology of global change. I am interested in the ways in which societies adapt to the twin processes of global environmental and social change. My methods include participatory mapping, remote sensing/image processing, GIS, and Agent-based Modeling (ABM). More specifically, I have explored:

How households adjust their structure and composition in response to drought and agricultural intensification.

How rural farmers and ranchers perceive climatic change and adapt to regional manifestations of global climate change.

How indigenous natural resource-based peoples develop institutions for managing local resources under conditions of increased risk and uncertainty.


PhD, The University of Arizona, 2006

Research & Activities:

Most of my work has been based on the northern Central Plateau of Burkina Faso among rural Mossi farming communities. This research explores how Mossi domestic processes of household extension and fragmentation articulate with larger processes of regional desiccation, livelihood diversification, and agricultural intensification.

I have also worked in the Southwest United States with ranching and farming communities to understand the vulnerability of their livelihood systems to drought. I was a NOAA Global and Climate Change post-doctoral Fellow in Alaska where I researched how subsistence livelihood systems of Yup’ik and Cup’ik indigenous communities are affected by climate change.

I am currently the PI on an NSF Cultural Anthropology Award (BCS-1759064) titled, “Factors Influencing Vegetation Trends in Dryland Zones with Dr. Aaron Moody (UNC-Geography) With students and collaborators in Burkina Faso, we seek to understand the bottom-up processes behind recent greening in northern Burkina Faso. We combine ethnography with the analysis of high-resolution satellite imagery through participatory mapping exercises in three zones across a gradient of high-, neutral-, and low-greening.

Selected Publications:

West, C.T., A. Moody, and E.K. Nébié. 2017. Ground-truthing Sahelian Greening: Ethnographic and Spatial Evidence from Burkina Faso. Human Ecology. 45(1):89-101.

Cooper, M. and C.T. West. 2017. Unraveling the Sikasso Paradox: Agricultural Change and Malnutrition in Sikasso, Mali. Ecology of Food and Nutrition. 56(2):101-123.

West, C.T. 2013. Documenting Livelihood Trajectories in the Context of Development Interventions in Northern Burkina Faso. Journal of Political Ecology 20(1):342-360.

West, C.T., E.K. Nébié, and A. Somé. 2014. Famines are a Thing of the Past: Food Security Trends in Northern Burkina Faso. Human Organization 73(4):340-350.

West, C. T. 2009. Domestic Transitions, Desiccation, Agricultural Intensification, and Livelihood Diversification among Rural Households on the Central Plateau, Burkina Faso. American Anthropologist 111(3): 275-288.

West. C. T., C. Roncoli, and F. Ouattara. 2008. Local Perceptions and Regional Climate Trends on the Central Plateau of Burkina Faso. Land Degradation and Development 19(3): 289-304.

Personal website

Curriculum Vitae