David Hurlbut

Research and teaching interests


Environmental and natural resource policy

My doctoral dissertation examines the conservation effects of water marketing in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and exemplifies the interdisciplinary approach I take to environmental and natural resource issues. It proceeds from an economic analysis of various types of water law, including colonial Spanish water law as well as modern riparian and appropriative laws, to frame hypotheses about water marketing's conservation effects. I then test those hypotheses by way of simple exploratory data analysis, econometric modeling, and simulation using dynamic programming.

I have also examined international environmental problems, specifically how international cooperation formed to address CFCs and the problem of stratospheric ozone deterioration. My research background easily enables me to teach courses on international environmental issues, water law, and water management.

International relations

My work in this field has focused primarily on international environmental law and diplomacy, although most of the key issues (treaty law, trade. and coalition-building) are common to most any other IR problems In particular, I have focused on the role of epistemic or knowledge-based communities as transnational policy players, This is an extension of sociology's "invisible college" concept to the political realm of scientific and technical specialists, whose communities are demarcated less by nationality and more by shared knowledge, common values, and accepted analytical tools. One particular line of inquiry that I plan to continue is how relations between the scientific estate and the political estate at the national level affect a country's position on international environmental agreements.

The historical progression by which realism has become marginalized as a paradigm of international relations is a future direction of my IR research. As non-military issues such as trade and environmental protection take greater prominence on the post-cold-war global agenda, the threat of force is becoming an almost-trivial dynamic in the affairs that have come to absorb most of the international community's attention. One particular subject of this line of inquiry will be the institutional issues between the United States and Mexico in Joint management of the Rio Grande Basin, on which I’ve done previous research (see publications list on my curriculum vitae).

Practical experience supplementing my academic study of IR includes three and a half years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal where I dealt with issues of education. foreign aid. and community development. My master’s thesis compared the roles played by foreign aid in improving female literacy in Pakistan and Indonesia.

Public administration policy development

While I can teach basic undergraduate survey courses in federal, state and local government, I am also qualified to teach upper-division courses that focus on policy development and public administration. My public policy coursework includes that covered by the master's program of the LBJ School of Public Affairs, along with doctoral-level coursework in public policy theory and advanced analytical methods. Public administration courses I am qualified to teach include: policy development, public management, political economy, and the use of quantitative analytical tools such as basic statistics and cost-benefit analysis. I am most interested in teaching seminars about the qualitative aspects of policy-making, including ethics. (I was a student of the late Barbara Jordan in her seminar on ethics and public policy.)

I was a teaching assistant in a graduate seminar on public administration and management, and helped revise the professor's syllabus to include simulations of real-world management situations such as mediation and labor relations. The LBJ School's core master's curriculum now includes several of those revisions, particularly ideas pertaining to the development of writing skills. I also planned and taught a module on mediation as a public management tool.

Alternative dispute resolution

I have completed a mediation training course that satisfies State of Texas requirements for practice. In addition, I have taught a mediation component as part of a seminar in public administration at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

My continuing interest in ADR is two-fold. First, as mediation skills are becoming increasingly important as public management tools in state and local government, I would like to incorporate ADR into student coursework. Second, I am especially interested in providing ADR education to local government and non-profits: in my view, this would be an important community service for any institute of higher learning.

Media and democracy

This is an area of past experience and future research interest. After my undergraduate studies at the University of Houston, I was business editor on a mid-sized daily newspaper and then a business reporter at the Dallas Times Herald, I have been supporting my family dun my doctoral studies by working as a copy editor at the Austin American-Statesman. Future research in media and democracy will combine this experience with my academic study of consent, interest group, elite theory, and more recent work on the Internet as a medium of public information.

As a full-time faculty member I would also be very interested in co-teaching a seminar with journalism department faculty on writing about government. This would be a "nuts-and-bolts" course dealing with how government agencies are managed and how public finance works.