Return to Skip Menu

Main Content

Marc J Stern

Associate Professor

B.S., Cornell University (Natural Resources), 1998; M.S., Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (Social Ecology), 2002; Ph.D., Yale University (Social Ecology), 2006


Interest Areas: Human dimensions of natural resource policy and management, environmental communications, protected areas management, international conservation, natural resource management effectiveness, attitudes vs. actions, public responses to natural resource management, evaluation of environmental education and other outreach programs, research methods.

Teaching Responsibilities
  • FOR 3524: Environmental Interpretation
  • FOR 3574: Environmental Education Service Learning
  • FOR 5464: Social Science Research Methods in Natural Resources
  • FOR 5004: Graduate Seminar in Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Management
Selected Research Activities
  • Public response to natural resource management:  This realm of my research focuses upon human behavior, its precursors, and the ways in which management procedures influence various responses. Why do people respond to natural resource policies and management in the ways they do?  The research spans local reactions to the policies and practices of multiple forms of natural resource management in both the U.S. and abroad.  One example looks at why people living within the immediate vicinities of national parks actively oppose or support those parks.
  • Decision-making and policy implementation within federal land management agencies:  This research has focused largely on the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act by federal land management agencies in the United States.  We’re examining the perceptions and behaviors of agency personnel as they navigate through competing interests and procedural requirements to make or inform management decisions.  The research addresses such questions as: How does NEPA actually influence agency decision-making?  How do agency personnel define successful NEPA processes?  What practices in NEPA practices lead to specific outcomes? How do managers balance scientific analyses with public knowledge and values in their management practices?  What are the appropriate roles for various stakeholders in public land management decisions?  How do agency officials navigate complex problems in the face of competing demands and accountabilities?  How do different stakeholders formulate their strategies for interaction in these processes?
  • Management effectiveness of conservation initiatives:  This research has involved working with numerous national and international organizations to gauge their degree of effectiveness in their conservation initiatives.  Examples of this work include gauging the effectiveness of different forms of marine conservation strategies around the world, explaining differential outcomes in conservation grants programs, examining the institutional resiliency of community-based conservation organizations, and understanding the impacts of network relationships upon conservation outcomes.
  • Evaluating environmental outreach:  Numerous programs exist around the world to build constituencies for environmental conservation.  This research largely focuses upon the impacts of environmental education initiatives upon participants, examining both changes in the participants’ knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors and the aspects of the programs that appear to drive those changes.  The research also examines differential influences of environmental communications on different target audiences, varying in ethnicity, urbanity, education, and economic class.
Selected Publications
  • Stern, M.J. and K.J. Coleman 2014. The multi-dimensionality of trust: applications in collaborative natural resource management. Society and Natural Resources. DOI:10.1080/08941920.2014.945062.
  • Hoover, K.N. and M.J. Stern 2014. Constraints to public influence in U.S. Forest Service NEPA processes. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 57(2); 157-172
  • Hoover, K.N. and M.J. Stern 2014. Team leaders’ perceptions of public influence in the U.S. Forest Service: exploring the difference between doing and using public involvement. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 57(2): 173-189.
  • Stern, M.J., C.A. Martin, S.A. Predmore, and W.C. Morse 2014. Risk tradeoffs in adaptive ecosystem management: the case of the United States Forest Service. Environmental Management 53(6): 1095-1108.
  • Journal of Interpretation Research Special Issue
    • Powell, R.B. and M.J. Stern 2013. Is it the program or the interpreter? Modeling the influence of program characteristics and interpreter attributes on visitor outcomes. Journal of Interpretation Research 18(2): 45-60.
    • Powell, R.B. and M.J. Stern 2013. Speculating on the role of context in the outcomes of interpretive programs. Journal of Interpretation Research 18(2): 61-78.
    • Stern, M.J. and R.B. Powell 2013. What leads to better visitor outcomes in live interpretation?  Journal of Interpretation Research 18(2): 9-44.
    • Stern, M.J., R.B. Powell, K.D. McLean, E. Martin, J.M. Thomsen, B.A. Mutchler 2013. The difference between good enough and great: bringing interpretive best practices to life. Journal of Interpretation Research 18(2): 79-100.
  • Stern, M.J., R.B. Powell, and D. Hill (available open access online).  Environmental education program evaluation: what do we measure and what have we learned? Environmental Education Research. Published online first (September 23, 2103): DOI:10.1080/13504622.2013.838749. URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13504622.2013.838749.
  • Stern, M.J., S.A. Predmore, W.C. Morse, and D.N. Seesholtz 2013. Project risk and appeals in U.S. Forest Service planning. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 42: 95-104.
  • Baral, N., M.J. Stern, and A.L. Hammett 2012. Developing a scale for evaluating ecotourism by visitors: a study in the Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal.  Journal of Sustainable Tourism 20(7): 975-989.
  • Gervich, C.D., M. Stephenson, and M.J. Stern 2012. Exploring producers’, staff members’ and board members’ cognitive frames on decision-making in an organic farming venture. Journal of Rural Social Sciences27(1): 52-83.
  • Skibins, J.C., Powell, R.B., and M.J. Stern 2012. Exploring empirical support for interpretation’s best practices. Journal of Interpretation Research17(1): 25-44.
  • Stern, M.J., and S.A. Predmore 2012. The importance of team functioning to natural resource planning outcomes. Journal of Environmental Management 106: 30-39. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301479712001740.
  • Stern, M.J., M.E. Wright, and R.B. Powell 2012. Motivating schools’ participation in National Park educational programs. Visitor Studies 15(1): 1-20.
  • Baral, N. and M.J. Stern 2011. Capital stocks and organizational resilience of conservation area management committees in Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal. Society and Natural Resources 24(10): 1011-102.
  • Baral, N. and M.J. Stern 2011. A comparative study of two community-based conservation models in Nepal.  Biodiversity and Conservation 20(11): 2407-2426.
  • Cerveny, L., D. Blahna, M.J. Stern, M.J. Mortimer, J. Freeman, and S.A. Predmore 2011. The use of recreation planning tools in Forest Service NEPA assessments. Environmental Management 48(3):644-657.
  • Cerveny, L., D. Blahna, M.J. Stern, M.J. Mortimer, and J. Freeman* 2011.  Interdisciplinary teams in the U.S. Forest Service: an examination of team structure for NEPA assessments. Journal of Forestry 109(4): 201-207.
  • Freeman, J., M.J. Stern, M.J. Mortimer, D. Blahna, and L. Cerveny 2011. Collaboration and leadership in interdisciplinary planning teams in the U.S. Forest Service.  Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 54(5): 597-615.
  • Mortimer, M.J., M.J. Stern, R. Malmsheimer, D. Blahna, L. Cerveny, and D. Seesholtz 2011. Environmental and social risks: Defensive NEPA in the U.S. Forest Service. Journal of Forestry 109(1): 27-33.
  • Powell, R.B., M.J. Stern, B. Krohn, and N.M. Ardoin 2011. Scale development and validation for environmental education outcomes: environmental responsibility, character development, and attitudes toward school. Environmental Education Research 17(1): 91-111
  • Predmore, S.A., M.J. Stern, and M.J. Mortimer. 2011. Constructing the public: the substantive sieve and personal norms in U.S. Forest Service planning. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 54(3): 403-419.  URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09640568.2010.507981
  • Predmore, S.A., M.J. Stern, M.J. Mortimer, and D. Seesholtz 2011. Perceptions of legally mandated public involvement processes in the U.S. Forest Service. Society and Natural Resources 24(12): 1286-1303.
  • Stern, M.J., R.B. Powell, and N.M. Ardoin 2011. Evaluating a constructivist and culturally responsive approach to environmental education for diverse audiences.  Journal of Environmental Education 42(2): 109-122
  • Stern, M.J., R.B. Powell, and C. Cook 2011. The benefits of live interpretive programs to parks. Park Science 27(3): 56-60
  • Stern, M.J. and S.A. Predmore 2011. Decision making, procedural compliance, and outcomes definition in U.S. Forest Service planning processes. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 31(3): 271-278.
  • Baral, N. and M.J. Stern 2010. Looking back and looking ahead: local empowerment and governance of the Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal. Environmental Conservation 37(1): 54-63.
  • Baral, N., M.J. Stern and J.T. Heinen 2010. Growth, collapse, and reorganization of the Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal: an analysis of institutional resilience. Ecology and Society 15(3):10 [online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss3/art10/
  • Stern, M.J. 2010. Payoffs vs. process: expanding the paradigm for park/people studies beyond economic rationality.  Journal of Sustainable Forestry 29(2-4): 174-201.
  • Stern, M.J., S.A. Predmore, M.J. Mortimer, and D. Seesholtz 2010. The meaning of the National Environmental Policy Act within the U.S. Forest Service. Journal of Environmental Management 91(6): 1371-1379.
  • Stern, M.J., S.A. Predmore, M.J. Mortimer, and D. Seesholtz 2010. From the office to the field: areas of consensus and tension in the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act within the U.S. Forest Service. Journal of Environmental Management 91(6): 1350-1356.
  • Stern, M.J. and M.J. Mortimer 2009. Exploring NEPA processes across federal land management agencies.  General Technical Report PNW-GTR-799. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 106
  • Stern, M.J., D.J. Blahna, L.K. Cerveny, and M.J. Mortimer 2009. Visions of success and achievement in recreation-related USDA Forest Service NEPA processes.  Environmental Impact Assessment Review 29(4): 220-228.
  • Stern, M.J. 2008. Coercion, voluntary compliance, and protest: the role of trust and legitimacy in combating local opposition to protected areas. Environmental Conservation 35(3): 200-210.
  • Stern, M.J. 2008. The power of trust: toward a theory of local opposition to neighboring protected areas.  Society and Natural Resources 21(10): 859-875
  • Stern, M.J., R.B. Powell, and N.M. Ardoin 2008. What difference does it make? Assessing outcomes from participation in a residential environmental education program. Journal of Environmental Education 39(4): 31-43.
  • Baral, N., M.J. Stern, and R. Bhattarai 2008. Contingent valuation of ecotourism in Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal: implications for sustainable park finance and local development.  Ecological Economics 66(2-3): 218-227.
  • Baral, N., M.J. Stern, and J.T. Heinen 2007.  Integrated conservation and development project life cycles in the Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal: Is development overpowering conservation? Biodiversity and Conservation 16: 2903-2917.
  • Powell, R.B., M.J. Stern, and N. Ardoin 2006. A sustainable evaluation program framework and its application.  Applied Environmental Education and Communication: An International Journal 5(4): 231-241.
  •  Stern, M.J. 2006. Measuring conservation effectiveness in the marine environment: a review of evaluation techniques and recommendations for moving forward. The Nature Conservancy, Washington, DC: 88 p.
  • Fortwangler, C. and M.J. Stern 2004.  Why history and culture matter — a case study from the Virgin Islands National Park.  Policy Matters 13: 148-161.
  • Stern, M.J. 2004. Understanding local responses to protected areas.  In Communicating Protected Areas Hamu, D., Auchincloss, E, and Goldstein, W. (Eds). IUCN Commission on Education and Communication.  Gland, Switzerland: 40-45.
  • Stern, M.J. 2004. Communicating with park neighbors: Lessons on content, delivery, and consistency. 3rd World Conservation. Congress Meeting of the IUCN Commission on Communication and Education Programme. 16-17 November 2004. IUCN Commission on Education and Communication, Gland: 20-26.
  • Stern, M. J. 2004.  Good neighbours, better protected nature. PAN Parks Courier. Spring 2004: 4-5.
  • Stern, M.J. 2004.  Shaping outreach to fit local complexity: themes for building local support for protected areas in varying contexts.  In The Global Challenges of Parks and Protected Areas Management. Camarda, I., M.J. Manfredo, F. Mulas, and T.L. Teel (Eds.). Carlo Delfino Editore: Sassari, Italy: 463-478.
  • Brunton, C., M. Stern et al. 2003. Young conservationists and the future of protected areas worldwide: A call to discussion at the Fifth World Parks Congress, Durban, South Africa, September 2003.  Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.  Available at: www.yale.edu/environment/publications.
  • Goodale, U.M., A.G. Lanfer, M.J. Stern, C. Margoluis, and M. Fladeland (Eds.) 2003.  Transboundary Protected Areas: The Viability of Regional Conservation Strategies.  Haworth Press, Inc., West Hazleton, PA.
  • Lanfer, A. G., U. M. Goodale, and M. J. Stern 2003.  The viability of transboundary protected areas.  Journal of Sustainable Forestry 17(1/2): 229-242.
  • Stern, M.J., C. Margoluis, A. G. Lanfer, U. M. Goodale 2003. The goals and challenges of the March 30-31, 2001 Yale ISTF Conference entitled Transboundary Protected Areas: The Viability of Regional Conservation Strategies. Journal of Sustainable Forestry 17(1/2): 1-6.
  • Stern, M. 2001.  Parks and factors in their success.  Science 293(5532): 1045.
Professional Affiliations
  • International Association for Society and Natural Resources
  • IUCN Commission on Education and Communication
  • IUCN World Commission on Protect Areas
  • North American Association for Environmental Education
  • Rural Sociological Society
  • Society for Conservation Biology, Social Sciences Working Group
    Dr. Marc Stern

  • (540) 231-7418
  • mjstern@vt.edu
  • Forest Res & Environ Cons (0324)
    304 Cheatham Hall
    Blacksburg, VA 24061

About Us

Contact Us

About Cheatham Hall 

   

FREC Strategic Plan

   

FREC Highlights of 2013

   

FREC Spring 2014 Newsletter

View Archive Newsletters 

   

FREC Career Book

   

FREC Course Cards

FREC YouTube Videos

Checksheets

FREC Undergraduate Checksheets

Undergraduate Brochure (pdf)

Graduate Brochure (pdf)