Abigail Abrash Walton, PhD
Director, Environmental Studies MS and Interdisciplinary MA Programs
Director, Advocacy for Social Justice and Sustainability master's concentration, Environmental Studies
Co-director, Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience, Environmental Studies
Dr. Abrash Walton is an innovative, mission-aligned leader, with 30 years of higher education and public interest experience. She serves as an administrative leader and faculty in Antioch University’s Department of Environmental Studies. As founding director of the Center for Academic Innovation and in her current roles, she has created, led – and mobilized more than $1 million in external resources to support – academic, professional development, and applied research programming and student scholarships. Under her leadership, the New England campus implemented a range of sustainability and social justice infrastructure and programming, including an EV-charging station, porous pavement, gender-inclusive/family restroom, bike shelter, campus recycling/composting and reduction of campus electricity usage by 68% cumulatively over a seven-year period through low-/no-cost behavior change and mini-tech programs.
Previously, she served as program director for the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, and Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program. Abigail has served as a commentator for The Washington Post, The New York Times, National Public Radio, “Democracy Now!” and PBS News Hour, among other media outlets. She has a deep commitment to civic engagement, with appointments at the municipal and state levels. Her research, practice, and public engagement is at the nexus of social justice and sustainability solutions.
- PhD in Leadership and Change, Antioch University
- MSc, London School of Economics
- BA, University of Pennsylvania
Dreyer, S., Kurz, T., Prosser, A., Abrash Walton, A., Dennings, K., McNeill, I., Saber, D., & Swim, J. (2020). Towards a Psychology of the Food-Energy-Water Nexus: Costs and Opportunities. Special Issue on the Psychology of Sustainable Consumption. Journal of Social Issues, 76(1), 136-149.
Abrash Walton, A. (2018). Positive deviance and behavior change: A research methods approach for understanding fossil fuel divestment. Energy Research and Social Science: Problems of method in the social study of energy and climate change, 45, 235-249. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2018.07.003
Abrash Walton, A. (2018). Fossil fuel divestment: The power of positively deviant leadership for catalyzing climate action and financing clean energy. In S. Lowe Steffen, J. Rezmovits, S. Rappaport, and S. Trevanna (Eds.), Evolving Leadership for Collective Wellbeing – Lessons for Implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd. ISBN: 978-1-78743-879-8
Abrash Walton, A., Simpson, M., Rhoades, J., & Daniels, C. (2016). Local solutions report: Identifying and meeting the needs of local communities adapting to climate change. Keene, NH: Antioch University New England Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience.
Abrash Walton, A., Simpson, M., & Castriotta, M. (2015) U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit road test: Bridging the data-practice divide. Keene, NH: Antioch University New England, Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience. https://aura.antioch.edu/facarticles/48/
Abrash Walton, A. (2010). Conservation through different lenses: Reflection, responsibility and the politics of participation in conservation advocacy. Environmental Management, 45(1), 19–25.doi:10.1007/s00267-008-9175-6
Abrash Walton, A. (2010). The sustainable learning community: One university’s journey to the future. The Northeastern Geographer, 2, 76.
Abrash Walton, A. (24 September, 2008). Lessons learned: Case study regarding the Amungme, Kamoro and Freeport. Hearing on Extracting Natural Resources: Corporate Responsibility and the Rule of Law, Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law of the Senate Judiciary Committee. United States Senate.
Abrash, A. (2007). The Amungme, Kamoro and Freeport: How indigenous Papuans have resisted the world's largest gold and copper mine. In F. J. Lechner & J. Boli (Eds.), The globalization reader (3rd ed.) (pp. 431–436). Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Abrash Walton, A. (2004). Mining a sacred land. Human Rights Dialogue: Environmental Rights, Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, 2(11).
Abrash, A. (2003). Let freedom ring: Recharging and consolidating ‘inside the Beltway’ activism. In M.A. Tetreault & R. Teske (Eds.), Partial truths and the politics of community: Feminist approaches to social movements, community, and power (Vol. 2) (pp. 211–229). Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.
Abrash, A. (2001, March 6). The victims of Indonesia’s pursuit of progress. Invited opinion piece, The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2001/03/06/opinion/the-victims-in-indonesia-s-pursuit-of-progress.html
Advocacy, public policy, community development, sustainability and social/environmental justice, organizational leadership/management
- ES7760 Dissertation Seminar
- ES7320 Learning Domain (PhD)
- ES6900 Supervised Independent Study: Climate Change Resilience
- ES6010 Political Economy and Sustainability
- ES6000 Collaborative Service Initiative (Master’s Capstone)
- ESP5100 Policy Advocacy: Climate Change
- ESP567 Environmental Justice in the Mississippi Delta
- ES5440 Leadership for Change
- ESP5270 Environmental Justice: Community Organizing, Extractive Industries and Human Rights Advocacy
- ES5260 Advocacy: Applied Methods
- ESACO 5230 Proposal Writing and the Grants Process
- ES5180 Advocacy Clinic
- ES5150 Environmental Advocacy: The Essentials
As a practitioner as well as a professor, I draw on real-world experience and case studies, academic scholarship and theory to provide students with a robust, concrete and practicable understanding of leadership for social/environmental justice and sustainability, advocacy, and political economy.
I view my role as being to share knowledge and professional experience and networks, to build applied skills and to create an effective container and framework that fosters student-directed learning, contextual meaning, and student interest and enthusiasm for each course’s focus. Socrates’ dictum that the unexamined life is not worth living informs my work as a teacher, and I incorporate into my courses numerous opportunities for guided reflection and meaning making. Helping students identify and understand the relevance of the subject matter to their particular professional path is my goal.
My own interest is in exploring and making connections between human rights and environmental concerns, and in advancing our collective understanding that successfully addressing these challenges is fundamental both to sustainable development and to basic requirements of peace and justice. Understanding our own unique place and spheres of influence in advancing these values is a core element of my teaching.
A key goal of advocacy is to achieve purposeful results for people who may not be empowered to act in the public debate. I aim to teach students to become advocates and leaders who participate in the social justice and sustainability decisions that directly affect their lives and the lives of others. My focus is on training them to have the analytical skills to assess a situation and develop a strategy for identifying and achieving concrete outcomes as well as the skills to implement that strategy effectively. I teach by example, and work to instill in my students the confidence that they can successfully create purposeful results and maintain the energy to do that in a sustained way.
Effective student learning relies on active engagement with and understanding of the relevance of a course subject. I create a host of opportunities for experiential education in each course I teach, providing students with the space to work with and learn from one another and from me, as the instructor. Through direct one-on-one understanding and assessment, I take a developmental approach to guiding each student through the learning experience. By design, my course assignments are meant to be accessible to a variety of learning styles and temperaments.
I value the potential of each student and remain actively engaged with and interested in students during and after their course experience with me. I view my role not just as an instructor for a particular course subject, but also as an active participant in students’ professional networks. Responsiveness and encouragement are hallmarks of my approach to continuing to support student learning and advancement beyond the course container; this includes writing letters of recommendation and providing professional guidance. I also proactively reach out to students and graduates to alert them to professional opportunities and to check in with them about their lives and careers. I am constantly inspired by each of their successes and consider myself privileged to be able to know and work with them, as an instructor, mentor and learning partner.
Invited presenter, “Translating Science to Inform Policy,” with C. Bartholomew, AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellows, Washington, DC, September 10, 2019.
Invited speaker, “Getting in the Game: Becoming Scientist Citizens,” Union of Concerned Scientists, December 5, 2018.
“Positively Deviant Leadership and Sustainable Consumption: The Phenomenon of Institutional Fossil Fuel Divestment,” Psychology of Sustainable Consumption Meeting, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, May 18, 2018.
Invited speaker, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration panel. American Geophysical Union annual conference, New Orleans, LA, December 11-15, 2017.
Invited speaker, Global Environmental Speakers Series. University of Richmond. Sponsored by the Jepson School of Leadership and the Department of Geography and the Environment, Richmond, VA, November 29, 2017.
Invited presenter, “Translating Science to Inform Policy,” with C. Bartholomew, AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellows, Washington, DC, September 11, 2017.
“Using Facilitated Communities of Practice to build local climate resilience capacity,” National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy and the Environment, Washington, DC, January 25, 2017.
“Change Leadership for a Changing Climate: Positive Deviance, Innovation, and Institutional Investing,” International Leadership Association Conference, Atlanta, GA, November 4, 2016.
“Change Leadership for a Changing Climate: Positive Deviance, Innovation, and Institutional Investing,” Behavior, Energy, and Climate Change Conference, Baltimore, MD, October 22, 2016.
Invited presenter, “Translating Science to Inform Policy,” with C. Bartholomew, AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellows, Washington, DC, September 2, 2016.
“Organizational Leadership and Fossil Fuel Divestment: Exploring Positive Deviance and Pro-Environmental Behavior,” Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences Annual Conference, Washington, DC, June 9, 2016.
Session Leader, “Equitable Adaptation: Collaborating for Resilience,” Local Solutions: Eastern Regional Climate Change Preparedness Conference, Baltimore, MD, April 4, 2016.
Invited presenter, “Local Climate Data Needs: Very Preliminary Findings,” Community Resilience Workshop, ESIP Summer Meeting, July 15, 2015.
Session Organizer and presenter, “Collaborating for Resilience,” with J. Patterson, National Adaptation Forum, St. Louis, May 13, 2015.
Invited presenter, “Translating Science to Inform Policy,” with C. Bartholomew, AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellows, Washington, DC, September 4, 2014.
Session Leader, “Collaborating for Resilience: Reaching the Most Vulnerable Populations,” Local Solutions: Northeast Climate Change Preparedness Conference, Manchester, NH, May 19, 2014.
Panelist, “Making Science Matter: Engaging Scientists and Engineers in Policy,” AAAS Science & Technology Policy Forum, Washington, DC, May 2, 2014.
Co-Chair & Panelist, “The role of marginalized peoples in sustainability solutions: How do Environmental Studies scholars, practitioners and students approach this critical need?” Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences Annual Conference, Pittsburgh, PA, June 2013.
Co-presenter & Organizer, “Translating Research to Inform Policy: How to Participate Effectively in the Policy Process,” with C. Bartholomew, National Adaptation Forum, Denver, CO, April 3, 2013.
Co-presenter & Organizer, “Translating Research to Inform Policy: How to Participate Effectively in the Policy Process,” with C. Bartholomew and D. Blockstein, 12th National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment, Washington, DC, January 17, 2012.
Co-Presenter, “Cutting Campus Commuter Carbon & Building Social Capital – Strategies & Tactics for Effective Change,” AASHE 2011 Conference & Expo, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, Pittsburgh, PA, October 10, 2011.
Invited presenter, “Freeport in Papua: Continuing Challenges & Questions,” Yale Indonesia Forum Conference on Papua, Yale University, New Haven, CT, April 16, 2011.
Invited presenter, “Values into Action: Effective Strategies for Advancing Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Justice & Sustainability,” Goddard College Sustainable Business & Communities program residency workshop, Plainfield, VT, May 3, 2011.
“Walking our Talk: Strategies, Challenges & Successes in the Pursuit of Sustainability and Social Justice on Campus,” AASHE 2008 Conference & Expo, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, Raleigh, NC, November 10, 2008.
Invited speaker, “Working Together as a Campus Community on Critical Issues of Social Justice: Practical Tools and Strategies for Grassroots Organizing,” Keene State Diversity Commission Summer Institute, May 2006.
Invited speaker, “Gold & Globalization: The Case of a U.S. Multinational's Exploits in Asia's Last Wilderness,” International Human Rights Lecture Series, Trinity College, Hartford, CT, November 15, 2005.
Invited panelist, “The Global Challenge for Human Security: Lessons on Environmental Governance from Asia,” Asia Society Symposium, New York City, October 18, 2004.
Invited panelist, “Community Development in Indonesia: Changing Strategies in Transitional Environments,”
Fund for Peace, Human Rights & Business Roundtable, Washington, D.C., November 24, 2003.
Invited panelist, “Environmental Rights are Human Rights: The Case for Working Together,” Grantmakers without Borders Conference, Washington, D.C., November 17-19, 2002.
Invited panelist, “Environmental Rights are Human Rights: New Opportunities for Synergy,” Environmental Grantmakers Association Fall Retreat, Asheville, NC, September 7-11, 2002.
Invited panelist, “Human Rights Dialogues with Corporations: Lessons and Rules of Engagement,” Conference sponsored by Harvard University Trade Union Program with the Harvard Law School Human Rights Program, and the Kennedy School of Government’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Cambridge, MA, June 11-12, 2001.
Program committee, 2018, 2019 Association of Environmental Studies & Science Annual Conferences.
Proposal Reviewer, 2018 International Leadership Association Annual Conference.
Proposal Reviewer, 2020 Environmental Literacy Grants Program, NOAA.
Editorial Board Member, Case Studies in the Environment, University of California Press, 2017- present
Founding Member, Steering Committee: Engaging Scientists and Engineers in Policy, 2013-2018 (with AAAS,Association of American Universities, Union of Concerned Scientists and others)
Referee: Provided peer review for manuscripts in American Journal of Public Health, Climatic Change, Energy Research & Social Science, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Journal of Business Ethics
Program Committee; 2011 & 2012 Conferences, AASHE