Robert B. Richardson

Robert Richardson

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Professor and Associate Chair
Department of Community Sustainability



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Dr. Robert Richardson is an ecological economist at Michigan State University with interests in the study of the environment and development, particularly the contribution of ecosystem services to socioeconomic well-being. His research, teaching, and outreach program focuses primarily on sustainable development, and he uses a variety of methods from the behavioral and social sciences to study decision-making about the use of natural resources and the values of ecosystem services. He has conducted research related to agricultural-environmental linkages, household food and energy security, and tradeoffs in decision-making about environmental management in southern and eastern Africa, Central America, and Southeast Asia, as well as in the USA. His work has been published in Ecological Economics, Environment and Development Economics, and World Development.

Dr. Richardson is President of the U.S. Society for Ecological Economics, and a member of the International Society for Ecological Economics. He is an affiliate faculty member with MSU's Environmental Science and Policy Program, Center for Advanced Study of International Development, Center for Regional Food Systems, African Studies Center, and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Courses taught:

  • CSUS 824 - Sustainable Development: Measuring Socioeconomic Well Being
  • CSUS 300 - Theoretical Foundations of Sustainability
  • CSUS 310 - History of Environmental Thought and Sustainability

Selected publications:

Silberg, T. R., R. B. Richardson, and M. C. Lopez. (2020). Maize farmer preferences for intercropping systems to reduce Striga in Malawi. Food Security 1-15.

Aminpour, P., S. A. Gray, R. B. Richardson, A. Singer, L. Castro, M. Schaefer, M. A. Ramlan, and N. R. Chikowore. (2020). Perspectives of scholars on the nature of sustainability: A survey study. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 21(1): 34-53.

Bro, A., D. Ortega, D. C. Clay, and R. B. Richardson. (2019). Understanding individuals’ incentives for climate change adaptation in Nicaragua's coffee sector. Climate and Development 1-22.

Silberg, T. R., V. G. P. Chimonyo, R. B. Richardson, S. S. Snapp, and K. Renner. (2019). Legume diversification and weed management in African cereal-based systems. Agricultural Systems 174: 83-94.

Mulenga, B., S. Tembo, and R. B. Richardson. (2019). Electricity access and charcoal consumption among urban households in Zambia. Development Southern Africa 36(5): 585-599.

Waldman, K. B. and R. B. Richardson. (2018). Confronting tradeoffs between agricultural ecosystem services and adaptation to climate change in Mali. Ecological Economics 150: 184-193.

Silberg, T., R. B. Richardson, M. Hockett1, and S. S. Snapp. (2017). Maize-legume intercropping in Central Malawi: Determinants of practice. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 15(6): 662-680.

Mulenga, B. P., P. Hadunka, and R. B. Richardson. (2017). Rural households’ participation in charcoal production in Zambia: Does agricultural productivity play a role? Journal of Forest Economics 26: 56-62.

Pearson, A. L., A. Rzotkiewicz, A. Zwickle, E. Mwita, and R. B. Richardson. (2017). Participatory mapping of environmental resources: A comparison of a Tanzanian pastoral community over time. Land Use Policy 69: 259-265.

Waldman, K. B., D. L. Ortega, R. B. Richardson, and S. S. Snapp. (2017). Estimating demand for perennial pigeon pea in Malawi using choice experiments. Ecological Economics 131: 222-230.

Waldman, K. B., D. L. Ortega, R. B. Richardson, D. C. Clay, and S. Snapp. (2016). Preferences for legume attributes in maize-legume cropping systems in Malawi. Food Security 8(6): 1087-1099.

Ortega, D. L., K. B. Waldman, R. B. Richardson, D. C. Clay, and S. Snapp. (2016). Sustainable intensification and farmer preferences for crop system attributes: Evidence from Malawi’s Central and Southern Regions. World Development 87: 139–151.

Mulenga, B., R. B. Richardson, G. Tembo, and L. Mapemba. (2014). Rural household participation in markets for non-timber forest products in Zambia. Environment and Development Economics 19(04): 487-504.

Árvai, J., D. Kellon, R. León, R. Gregory, and R. B. Richardson. (2014). Structuring international development decisions: Confronting tradeoffs between land use and community development in Costa Rica. Environmental Systems and Decisions 34(2): 224-236.

Zulu, L. and R. B. Richardson. (2013). Charcoal, livelihoods, and poverty reduction: Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa. Energy for Sustainable Development 17(2): 127-137.

Richardson, R. B., D. Kellon, R. Leon, and J. L. Árvai. (2013). Using choice experiments to understand household tradeoffs regarding pineapple production and environmental management in Costa Rica. Journal of Environmental Management 127: 308-316.

Richardson, R. B., A. Fernandez, D. Tschirley, and G. Tembo. (2012). Wildlife conservation in Zambia: Impacts on rural household welfare. World Development 40(5): 1068-1081.

Editorial boards:

  • Environmental Management
  • Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research
  • International Journal of Ecological Economics and Statistics
  • Michigan State University Press


  • Ph.D., Agricultural and Resource Economics, Colorado State University, 2002
  • M.B.A., New York University, 1995
  • B.S., Tulane University, 1989

Dr. Richardson's curriculum vitae