Robert Richardson PhD

Robert Richardson
Telephone: 517-355-9533

Department of Community Sustainability

Department of Community Sustainability, Associate Professor


480 Wilson Rd., 305 Natural Resources
East Lansing, MI 48824-1222

MSU Department of Community Sustainability

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 a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and chairperson of the subcommittee on Sustainable and Healthy Communities. He is a former officer and board member 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 310 - History of Environmental Thought and Sustainability
  • EEP 320 - Environmental Economics
  • PRR 302 - Environmental Attitudes and Concepts

Selected publications:

  • Waldman, K. B., D. O. 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. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2016.09.006.
  • Hockett, M.and R. B. Richardson. (2016). Examining the Drivers of Agricultural Experimentation Among Smallholder Farmers in Malawi. Experimental Agriculture. doi: 10.1017/S0014479716000673.
  • Waldman, K. B., D. L. Ortega, R. B. Richardson, D. Clay, and S. Snapp. (2016). Preferences for Legume Attributes in Maize-Legume Cropping Systems in Malawi. Food Security 8(6): 1087-1099. doi: 10.1007/s12571-016-0616-4.
  • Ortega, D. O., K. B. Waldman, R. B. Richardson, D. 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. doi: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2016.06.007.
  • Mungai, L., S. S. Snapp, J. Messina, R. Chikowo, A. Smith, E. Anders, R. B. Richardson, and G. Li. (2016). Smallholder Farms and the Potential for Sustainable Intensification. Frontiers in Plant Science: Agroecology and Land Use Systems 7(1720): 1-17. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.01720.
  • Holmes, T., M. Bowker, J. Englin, E. Hjerpe, J. Loomis, S. Phillips, and R. Richardson. (2015). A Synthesis of the Economic Values of Wilderness. Journal of Forestry114(3): 320-328. doi: 10.5849/jof.14-136.
  • 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. doi: 10.1017/S1355770X13000569.
  • Arvai, J., D. Kellon, R. León, R. Gregory, and R. 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. doi: 10.1007/s10669-014-9495-4.
  • 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. doi: 10.1016/j.esd.2012.07.007.
  • R. B. Richardson, D. Kellon, R. León, and J. L. Arvai. (2013). Using Choice Experiments to Understand Household Tradeoffs Regarding Pineapple Production and Environmental Management in Costa Rica. Journal of Environmental Management 127: 308-316. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2013.05.043.
  • 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.
  • Richardson, R. B. (2010). Ecosystem Services and Food Security: Economic Perspectives on Environmental Sustainability. Special issue: Food Security and Environmental Sustainability. Sustainability 2(11): 3520-3548.


  • Richardson, R. B. (editor). 2013. Building a Green Economy: Perspectives from Ecological Economics. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press.

In progress:

  • Grabowski, P., L. Schmitt Olabisi, J. Adebiyi, K. Waldman, S. S. Snapp and R. B. Richardson. 2016. Assessing the potential for agricultural technology adoption using system dynamics and choice experiments: The case of perennial pigeonpea in Malawi. Submitted, Ecological Economics.
  • Nkonde, C., T. Jayne, R. B. Richardson, and F. Place. 2016. Revisiting the inverse farm size-productivity relationship: A case study of Zambia. In revision, World Development.
  • Subakanya, M., G. Tembo and R. B. Richardson. 2016. Land use plans and wildlife-inflicted crop damage in Zambia’s Game Management Areas. Submitted, Society and Natural Resources.
  • Waldman, K. B. and R. B. Richardson. 2017. Crop duration and smallholder climate change adaptation in Mali. Submitted, Environment and Development Economics.

Editorial boards:

  • Environmental Management
  • Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research
  • Society and Natural Resources
  • 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

African Studies Center
Center for Advanced Study of International Development 
Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Center for Regional Food Systems
Environmental Science and Policy Program


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