Civil and Environmental Engineering

Contact Information

Salisbury Laboratories, 327
Phone: +1-508-831-5826
Fax: +1-508-831-5774

Derren Rosbach

The overarching goal of my teaching and research is to contribute to an interdisciplinary understanding of environmental governance and policy. More specifically, I focus on the building of individual, organizational and institutional capacities to participate in collaborative efforts to address complex social and environmental sustainability problems through the application of science and technology. 

My academic and professional background includes experience in molecular biology, microbial ecology, wildlife biology, sustainable forestry and most recently environmental policy and planning.  What fascinates me the most are the dynamics of coupled social and natural systems and the collaborative interdisciplinary teams assembled to address pressing environmental and social challenges. My research aims to understand human impacts on the environment and how groups negotiate the values inherent in environmental policy choice making. In particular, I am interested in whether and how integrated approaches to problem-solving can help to address efforts to secure sustainability and to address other critical environmental issues.

At WPI I currently teach the Great Problems Seminars: The World’s Water and Power the World.  I also teach courses in Environmental Studies and Civil and Environmental Engineering.  My principal objective as a teacher and project advisor is to encourage students to think critically about the challenges land and natural resource use pose to society. This requires addressing the complex array of relationships between humans, technology and the diversity of environments we inhabit. I believe it is crucial to illustrate to students how social systems evolve in response to resource use and how specific values choices have been embedded, for good and ill, in policy instruments and outcomes.  Ultimately, I seek to encourage students to learn how to think, rather than what to think.

Research Interests

  • Environmental Governance
  • Sustainability
  • Science and Technology Studies
  • Public Policy
  • Cross-Disciplinary Research


  • BA, College of the Atlantic 1995
  • MS, Western Carolina University 2005
  • PhD, Virginia Tech 2010

Featured Publications

  • Rosbach, D. (2012). Building a Transdisciplinary Trading Zone. International Journal of Science in Society Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.17-30.  
  • O'Connell, S. P., York, E. A., Collins, M. B., Rosbach, D., Black, K. R., & Haney, W. (2007). An initial inventory of bacteria found within the soils and waters of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Southeastern Naturalist, Special Issue(1), 57-­‐72.
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