About

Dr. Heather Rothrock - Director of Sustainability Policy

Dr. Heather Rothrock

Dr. Heather Rothrock

Biography and Research Interests
Dr. Heather Rothrock is the  Sustainability Policy Concentration Director in the Patel College of Global Sustainability (PCGS) at the University of South Florida (USF). She is a Systems Ecologist, with a research emphasis on environmental accounting. Heather holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering Sciences from the University of Florida and a B.S. in Biology from Eckerd College.

In graduate school, Dr. Rothrock was part of a research group affiliated with UF's Center for Environmental Policy, whose mission is "developing methods of planning, designing, and quantitatively measuring sustainable patterns of human and ecological systems". Her dissertation was entitled, "Think Globally, Act Locally: Using Emergy (with an "m") Analysis to Evaluate Small-scale, Human-dominated Systems". Heather has spent extensive time living in several intentional (ecovillages, co-housing) communities to collect data for her doctoral research. She believes these "alternative" communities are a rich source of information and can serve as models for sustainable development.

Prior to graduate school, Heather worked offshore as a protected species observer, enforcing marine policies such as the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act. After graduating with her Ph.D., Dr. Rothrock worked in a management position for a start-up biotechnology company. She realized working as an educator was her true passion and returned to academia. Heather has previously taught environmental science and sustainability policy courses at the University of Florida, and most recently, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP). Within the Patel College of Global Sustainability, Dr. Rothrock teaches Economics and Finance for Sustainability, Research Methods for Sustainability, and courses within the sustainability policy concentration.

As a systems ecologist, Heather studies the interactions of energy flows with a system (ecosystem, community, etc.) and then assesses the sustainability of the system with environmental accounting techniques. Her focus is on using environmental accounting to quantify the value of ecosystem services. She believes one of the major sustainability issues today is the lack of assigning an accurate value to services nature provides. Once calculated values are assigned to these services, policies can be developed to best manage the use and conservation of resources.

Dr. Rothrock is a firm believer in interdisciplinary research, as all solutions to sustainability problems require cooperation between multiple (sometimes many) sectors and stakeholders. Her research interests include ecological engineering; environmental accounting; intentional communities that often display off-grid infrastructure, alternative energy usage, permaculture design, small-scale farming practices, local economy movements, and social equity; impacts of consumerism and the policy barriers to reduce negative impacts of consumerism; development of equitable sources of income for people living in poverty, especially in developing countries ; payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs; sustainable tourism; ecocide laws; policies at local, regional, national, and international levels that address the three aspects (environmental, social, economic) of sustainability.

Courses
IDS 6235 - Economics and Finance for Sustainability (3)
The course provides sustainability practitioners with an overview of how economics and finance are expanded in the green economy to optimize the triple bottom line of profits, people, and the environment. Emphasis is placed on both environmental and corporate economics and finance. A real-world project offers students the opportunity to practice their knowledge.
IDS 6225 – Research Methods for Sustainability (3)
This course teaches the processes and procedures for a hands-on, in-depth experience with the research tools, methodologies and the underlying rationale for inquiry. In this course, students can responsibly design and conduct original research or prepare for an internship in their field of study or concentration. Through selected readings and focused lectures, students will learn how to apply research methods for field work and civic engagement. This course will enable students to interact meaningfully with USF and external supervisors and organizations, adapt to norms and protocols expected in the sustainability field, and be in compliance with relevant regulations. This course gives students the ability to choose and use the best possible methods and tools to achieve their research/internship objectives.