Dr. David Casagrande

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Picture of Dr.David Casagrande

Associate Professor of Anthropology


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STEPS Building, Room 436
Lehigh University
1 West Packer Ave.
Bethlehem, PA 18015

Tel: (610) 758-2672

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I am an ecological anthropologist who studies how culture shapes the way humans interact with natural environments. My research topics range from how Tzeltal Maya use medicinal plants to decisions about water in the American Southwest, response to floods along the Mississippi River, and impacts of extractive technologies like hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. My research is integrated into public policy. We are on the verge of a major ecological transition similar to the agricultural and industrial revolutions, and today's students are the architects of a new worldview. My goal is to help students learn to navigate this transition through critical thinking and recognizing cultural bias.

I originally majored in music in college and played professionally for over 10 years. But it is the sounds of nature that bring the sweetest music to my ears. I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors--fishing the Connecticut shoreline, hiking the mountains of New England, canoeing the bogs of Maine, and identifying birds and wild plants. In 1984 I received a bachelor degree in geography and worked for 10 years as a transportation planner and policy analyst for the state of Connecticut. For a long time, I questioned human impacts on our natural environment. In 1994 I changed careers and went to the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies for a master’s degree in ecology and policy. I eventually realized that to solve our problems we need to understand how people think about nature and interact with it. I decided to study for a doctoral degree in ecological anthropology at the University of Georgia. Twists and turns in my career have allowed me to live with cowboys in Venezuela, Mayans in Mexico, and other wonderful people, and to learn languages like Spanish and Tzeltal Maya.

Donna and I purchased an 8-acre farmette in New Tripoli, Pennsylvania. We are restoring the 19th century home using green building principles. We removed our oil heat and installed a high-efficiency ductless heat pump. We purchase 100% Pennsylvania wind-generated power from our electrical supplier. The result is complete comfort with a negligible carbon footprint and minimal additional cost. I also try to be sustainable by telecommuting, growing as much organic food as I can, and engaging in reciprocity with other producers around my home. I even grow my own medicinal plants.

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Our farm house in New Tripoli
 Our farm house in New Tripoli

Current Positions

Associate Professor of Anthropology, Lehigh University

Research Coordinator, Environmental Initiative, Lehigh University

Production Editor, Journal of Ecological Anthropology

Topic Editor, Encyclopedia of Earth

Associate Editor, Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine


Ph.D., University of Georgia, Ecological Anthropology

Master of Forest Science, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

B.S., Geography, Southern Connecticut State University


ENGLISH - primary, SPANISH - secondary, TZELTAL (Maya) - intermediate, GERMAN - basic

"Scientists believe in proof without certainty: most people believe in certainty without proof."

Ashley Montagu