John Kerr

John Kerr
Telephone: (517) 353-0762

Department of Community Sustainability

Professor, Associate Department Chairperson


325 Natural Resources

Background and Research Interests

John Kerr received his PhD in applied economics in 1990 at the Food Research Institute, Stanford University. Before joining the faculty at Michigan State University in 1999 he worked at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad, India, and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, DC.

His research interests are in international agricultural development and natural resource management. Focal areas of his research have been on adoption of agricultural technology and natural resource conservation practices, collective action and property rights related to natural resource management, and the interaction of these things with rural poverty in developing countries. He has lived in and conducted research in India, Mexico, and Egypt, and conducted short-term research in many other countries as well.  Current projects include one funded by the National Science Foundation’s Interdisciplinary Behavioral and Social Science program titled The Effects of Short-Term Incentives on Social Norms and Behaviors, with field work in Qinghai, China, and another funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation titled AFEX: a technology for addressing seasonality in access to quality cattle feed in India and Africa.

John Kerr's CV

Selected Publications 

Grabowski, Philip P., John M. Kerr, Steven Haggblade, & Stephen Kabwe. 2016. Determinants of adoption and disadoption of minimum tillage by cotton farmers in eastern Zambia. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment231, 54-67.

Kumar, Kundan, Neera Singh, and John M. Kerr. 2015. Decentralisation and democratic forest reforms in India: Moving to a rights-based approach. Forest Economics and Policy. 51: 1–8

Waldman, Kurt, and John Kerr. 2014. Limitations of certification and supply chain standards for environmental protection in commodity crop production. Invited paper for Annual Review of Resource Economics, 6:429-449.  DOI: 10.1146/annurev-resource-100913-012432

Kerr, John, Mamta Vardhan, and Rohit Jindal. 2014. Incentives, Conditionality and Collective Action in Payment for Environmental Services. International Journal of the Commons. 8(2): 595-616. 

Waldman, Kurt, John Kerr, and Krista Isaacs. 2014. Combining participatory on-farm agronomic trials and experimental auctions to estimate farmer preferences for improved common bean in Rwanda. Food Policy.  46(June): 183–192.  DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2014.03.015

Grabowski, Philip, and Kerr, John. 2013. Resource constraints and partial adoption of conservation agriculture by hand-hoe farmers in Mozambique. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. 12(1): 37-53DOI:10.1080/14735903.2013.782703

Kerr, John, Mamta Vardhan, and Rohit Jindal. 2012. Prosocial Behavior and Incentives: Evidence from Field Experiments in Rural Mexico and Tanzania. Ecological Economics, 73: 220-227.

Jindal, Rohit, John Kerr, Paul Ferraro, and Brent Swallow. 2011. Social dimensions of procurement auctions for environmental service contracts: Evaluating tradeoffs between cost-effectiveness and participation by the poor in rural Tanzania. Land Use Policy, In Press.

Jindal, Rohit, Brent Swallow, and John Kerr. 2008. Carbon Sequestration Projects in Africa: Potential benefits and challenges to growth. Natural Resources Forum 32 (2008) 116–130

Kerr, John. 2007. Watershed management: lessons from common property theory.International Journal of the Commons 1(1): 89-109.

Kerr, John, Pari Baumann, A.J. James, Vasudha Chottray, Grant Milne. 2007. Managing Watershed Externalities in India. Journal of Environment, Development and Sustainability 9: 263-281.

Matta, Jagannadha Rao, John Kerr and Kimberly Chung. 2005. From Forest Regulation to Participatory Facilitation: Forest Employee Perspectives on Organizational Changes and Transformation in India. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 48(4): 475-490.

Kerr, John, and John Pender. 2005. Farmers’ Perceptions of Soil Erosion and its Consequences in India’s Semi-Arid Tropics. Land Degradation and Development 16: 257-271

Kerr, John. 2002. Watershed Development, Environmental Services, and Poverty Alleviation in India. World Development, Volume 30, Number 8 (August), pp. 1387-1400.

Kerr, John, and Shashi Kolavalli. 1999. The Impact of Agricultural Research on Poverty Alleviation: Conceptual Framework with Illustrations from the Literature. EPTD Discussion Paper 56, IFPRI, Washington.

Pender, John, and John Kerr. 1998. Determinants of Farmers’ Indigenous Soil and Water Conservation Investments in Semi-Arid India. Agricultural Economics. Volume 19, No 1-2, pp. 113-125.

International Journal of the Commons  

Kerr is on the editorial board of the International Journal of the Commons, a peer-reviewed, on-line, open access journal dedicated to the study of managing the commons.


CSUS 826 - International Development Theory and Practice, is the core class for the interdepartmental specialization in international development.  It surveys thinking about international development over the past 50 years. 

CSUS 800 – Foundations of Sustainability Introduction to the CSUS graduate program and exploration of the key intellectual themes of our department: ethics, interdisciplinarity, community development & engagement, and sustainability. 


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