Grace Wang

Professor and Director, Sustainability Engagement Institute


I grew up in the Seattle area, only to move away for college and graduate school. The great Wallace Stegner once wrote that “some people are born in their place, some find it, some realize after long searching that the place they left is the one they have been searching for.”  So I’m back in the Northwest, and enjoying the abundant natural resources and recreational opportunities. My childhood included lots of camping and fishing with my family. Partly because of that, both my personal and professional lives have revolved around conserving natural resources. In my spare time you'll find me hiking, running, and enjoying other outdoor pursuits. 

In addition to my teaching role, I have a second campus role as Director of the Sustainability Engagement Institute which brings together Western's educational, co-curricular, and operational functions.  

The Sustainability Engagement Institute develops educational opportunities and systems-change for a more sustainable, just future. We engage in initiatives that create economic vitality, promote well-being, protect the environment, and uphold social justice.


PhD and MS Forestry, University of Minnesota; BS Political Economy of Natural Resources, University of California, Berkeley

Research Interests

My scholarly activities throughout my professional career fall into three interrelated themes of research and involvement. These are the human dimensions of natural resource management, community-based resource management, and cultural resources management. In my human dimensions research, I've focused on stakeholder issues and attitude identification. Using different social science approaches -focus groups, key informant interviews, sample surveys and questionnaires - I have coordinated research which has implications for the management of natural resources. I’ve also been involved in research with colleagues about traditional ecological knowledge and the implications for management of public lands. 

My graduate students have studied a broad range of policy or sustainability issues. Here are some from recent years:

  • fast fashion (Rebecca Williams)
  • trust and conservation issues in Whatcom County (Analiese Burns)
  • recreation surveys (Sarah Lindell)
  • climate justice (Jill MacIntyre Witt)
  • non-timber forest products (Deidre Peroff)
  • conflict minerals (Lacey Cunningham)
  • teaching about sustainability (Stefanie Neale)
  • certified forestry (Tracy Petroske)
  • reaching underrepresented populations during Covid (Andrew Basabe)
  • community-driven forest stewardship (Alexander Harris)


"Who Controls the Land? Lessons from the Armed Takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge"  

Wang, G. and Middaugh, G. 2016. "Analysis of BLM decision-making in the Context of Land Use Plan Development" (White paper for Pew Charitable Trusts)

Wang, G. 2018. Global Sustainability Issues: Population, Poverty, Consumption, and the Environment (second edition).  Facing the Future. 

Teaching Schedule

My teaching includes courses in environmental and natural resource policy, environmental studies and sustainability,