Wesley Zebrowski (they/them) is a doctoral candidate in Public Affairs at the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. Wesley has research interests in agricultural policy, equity & discrimination, and policy analysis and will be available for interviews for the 2023-2024 job market.
PhD in Public Affairs, 2024 (Expected)
BA in Government & Environmental Policy, 2018
This paper examines the causal impact of discretionary adjustments by local boards to counties’ soil rental rates for the Conservation Reserve Program on program enrollment over 2016-2022. I use a coarsened exact matching method to pair most similar counties and then estimate both the average treatment effect and the marginal treatment effect of rate changes. The results suggest that, on average, a $1 increase in a county’s soil rental rate leads to a 58.84 acre increase in county CRP general acreage enrollment, with no effect on highly beneficial continuous acreage lands. The results suggest that competitive general acres are much more price sensitive than continuous acres, and thus that county rate adjustments are highly effective at enrolling acres but increase enrollment costs for the most environmentally beneficial lands.
This research uses a spatial, social-ecological model to examine patterns in church forest size and vegetation density across 2,743 church forests in the Amhara Region. Results suggest that larger internal clearings correlate with larger forest area, and clearings also scale with population size. Additionally, we find that internal clearings are an important source of omitted variable bias in estimating the relationship between density and area in church forests. Ultimately, this study suggests that church forests in Ethiopia may be sustained rather than consumed from within.
This study sought to better understand how different narratives frame grain farmers’ thought processes for transitioning from conventional production systems to certified organic production systems. We co-created narratives around organic production with farmers, which resulted in four passages aligned with the literature, specifically farm-family legacy, economic values, environmental values, and Christianity and stewarding Eden. Then, we mailed a paper survey to conventional, in transition, and certified organic Indiana grain farmers in order to test how these different narratives motivated organic production. We found that the most prevalent narrative around organic production is the farm-family legacy, which specifically resonated with midsize farmers. We also found that the religious stewardship narrative resonated with a substantial number of organic and mixed practice farmers, which is likely due to Amish farmers within the sample.
We employ a month-level temporal model to predict the likelihood of a mobilization event taking place, and a network-analysis model that predicts the involvement of Social Movement Organizations (SMO’s). Our results indicate that, with the exception of anti-nuclear mobilization, the environmental movement saw demobilization effects from past events, most strongly for institutional events such as lawsuits. However, past SMO participation significantly increased the likelihood of a non-nuclear environmental protest occurring in the subsequent period. We also find that SMO’s prefer to participate in events which match their past experiences, have greater public participation, and target the government. These findings support resource mobilization theory by highlighting the positive influence that SMO’s have on mobilization formation and momentum as well as demonstrating how SMO participation shapes and is shaped by event characteristics.
With the increase in the severity of natural disasters linked to climate change, the role religious congregations play in response is not well known, despite their substantial involvement in general charitable activity. Most disaster response research is event-based, ex post, and not focused on religious institutions or donor capacity considerations. Data from the National Study of Congregational Economic Practices fill this gap. The findings indicate that in 2017, a substantial percentage of US congregations participated in disaster-related charitable giving and volunteering. However, the profiles of participating congregations are nuanced and do not always follow prior theory. A congregation’s religious tradition is less predictive than some might expect in the context of disasters. Consistent with open systems theory, we find that congregations’ interorganizational networks and their proximity to disaster areas are better predictors of participating in disaster relief efforts.
We use network analysis to explore differences in seed networks accessed by women and men for three major food security crops—beans, finger millet, and sorghum—in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. We find that women, on average, have fewer connections to experts and farmers’ groups than men but are relatively better connected in farmer-to-farmer social networks across different farming systems. We further find women’s and men’s networks are clustered by gender (i.e., women’s networks include more women, and men’s networks include more men)—and that men’s networks are more likely to exchange improved seed. Women’s networks, though sometimes larger, are less likely to exchange improved varieties that might help farmers adapt to climate change. Women farmers across contexts may also be more reliant on farmer-to-farmer networks than men due to their relative isolation from other seed and information sources.
In-person: Spring 2023
Tutor: Spring 2021
Tutor: Fall 2020