Texas Tech University

Sociology Faculty Member Wins Fulbright to Study Adaptations to Climate Change

Glenys Young

August 9, 2017


Cristina Bradatan wants to understand how people in rural Romanian communities are working together to deal with drought.

Cristina Bradatan
Cristina Bradatan

Cristina Bradatan has an innate interest in how humans and the environment interact with and affect one another. After all, it's no accident that the associate professor of sociology in the Texas Tech University Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work is also a faculty member in the Climate Science Center.

As one of four Texas Tech faculty members named a Fulbright Scholar for the 2017-18 academic year, Bradatan will travel to Romania for a real-world study on how three rural communities are adapting to climate change.

What does your project entail?

"My project is titled ‘Governing the Commons: Climate Change, Irrigation and Cooperation in Southern Rural Romanian Communities.' During my time in Romania, I will conduct interviews with farmers and collect literature on this topic.”

What is the goal of your project?

"The goal of this project is to understand what makes people cooperate when faced with environmental problems – drought, in this case. The study will compare three rural communities where people adopted different strategies, or did nothing, in order to deal with this issue.”

How will the Fulbright help you?

"Fulbright offers me the possibility of spending a semester in Romania so I would have time to collect information and do interviews necessary for this project. I do not see how I could do this research without benefiting from a Fulbright fellowship.”

How long will your research last?

"My Fulbright fellowship is for one semester, spring 2018, but I expect to work on the information collected for the next two years.”

What reaction have you received from the people you'll work with?

"Before applying for this fellowship, I contacted several academics from the University of Bucharest and the Romanian Academy. They encouraged me to pursue this topic and assured me of their help.”

What do you hope to contribute on a larger scale through your work?

"While climate change has slowly emerged in academic, media and political debates as an important social issue, we are still at the beginning in understanding how to help communities build resilience when faced with this. One way of doing this is by helping them to deal with current environmental issues, given the fact that climate change is going to exacerbate these.

"This research focuses on such an existing environmental problem, drought, and plans to analyze how cooperation and trust – as social characteristics – can help communities fight against environmental problems that threaten their economic existence. As such, this project has the potential to contribute both to the growing literature on climate adaptation/human-environmental interaction and also to the literature on cooperation and trust.”

Why are you passionate about this?

"I am one of those academics who is interested in how to help solve social issues rather than just studying them. Living in West Texas made me aware of how important water is for human communities, so I started to work on the issue of drought because here we are always faced with this problem. I think if we are unable to cooperate with each other, we would end up in situations where everybody is worse off. This is why I am passionate about understanding cooperation.”

Is there anything else you'd like to say?

"I think Fulbright is a wonderful opportunity for those of us who need to do comparative research and lack resources to travel and live abroad for longer periods of time.”

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