Assistant Professor, Department of Global Development
Chuan Liao is Assistant Professor in the Department of Global Development at Cornell University. As an interdisciplinary sustainability and environmental social scientist, Chuan’s research interest lies at the intersection of environment, development, and justice. He develops and applies integrated approaches to study human-environment interactions by linking statistical, spatial, and other quantitative methods. He has worked on topics that include land tenure and land use change, dryland system sustainability, sustainable energy transition, and circular bionutrient economy. He was Editor-in-Chief of World Development in 2021 and 2022, and sits on the International Advisory Board of Journal of Peasant Studies.
Prior to Cornell, he was Assistant Professor in the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University for 4 years and Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School for Environment and Sustainability at University of Michigan for 3 years. Chuan obtained his BS in Resource Science at Beijing Normal University, and his MS and PhD in Natural Resources at Cornell University.
- PhD, 2015, Natural Resources, Cornell University
- MS, 2012, Natural Resources, Cornell University
- BS, 2010, Resource Science, Beijing Normal University
Environment, development & justice
Statistical & spatial methods
Chuan Liao’s overall research goal is to understand how to achieve synergy between environmental sustainability and community development in the food systems. Much of his research focuses on empirically investigating the causal mechanisms within the coupled complex systems in order to test and refine theories in both natural and social sciences. For Chuan, the interactions within and between social and ecological systems provide exciting research opportunities as they reflect the adaptation processes in the context of shocks such as climate variability, species introduction, and land use change. At the same time, however, natural disasters and social injustice appear to be growing, affecting more people’s well-being than ever, especially the poorest populations in the world’s most remote places where livelihoods depend largely on natural resources such as forests and rangelands. Within these contexts, Chuan seeks to make prescriptive predictions about the impact of socio-environmental change and better inform sustainable and adaptive development.
41. Wang, X.*, Liao, C., Brandhorst, S.*, Clark, P. 2022. Sedentarization as an adaptation to socio-environmental changes? Everyday herding practices in pastoralist communities in Southern Ethiopia. Ecology & Society (accepted). *Graduate Mentee
40. Fu, H., Zhao, S., Liao, C. 2022. Spatial Governance of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Urban Agglomeration Towards Low-Carbon Transition. China Agricultural Economic Review (accepted).
39. Agrawal, A., Brandhorst, S., Jain, M., Liao, C., Pradhan, N., Solomon, D. 2022. From Environmental Governance to Governance for Sustainability. One Earth., 5(6): 615-621.
38. Ye, C., Chen, M., Chen, R., Liao, C. 2022 Rural–Urban Governance toward Sustainable Development Goals. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 232(7): 1405-1408.
37. Liao, C., Agrawal, A. 2022. Sustainable and Just Energy Transitions in the Global South (Introduction to A Special Issue). World Development,152:105798.
36. Yin, D., Huang, Q., He, C., Hua, X., Liao, C., Inostroza, L., Zhang, L., Bai, Y. 2022. The Varying Roles of Ecosystem Services in Poverty Alleviation among Rural Households in Urbanizing Watersheds. Landscape Ecology, 37: 1673–1692.
35. Fu, H., Wang, Y., Mao, L., Hong, N., Wang, Z., Zhao, S., Liao, C. 2022. The Spatial Pattern and Sustainability of Zhongyuan Urban-Rural System in Its Development Trajectory. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 232(7): 1261-1280.
34. Liao, C., Nolte, K, Sullivan, J. Brown, D., Lay, J., Althoff, C., Agrawal, A. 2021. Carbon Emissions from the Global Land Rush and Their Potential Mitigation. Nature Food, 2, 15–18.
33. Fei, D., Liao, C., Yang, H. 2020. Student Returnees from China’s COVID-19 Epicenter: Spatio-temporal Movement and Impact of Tracing. Social Science & Medicine, 287 (2021) 114371.
32. Williams, T., Trush, S., Sullivan, J., Liao, C., Chesterman, N., Agrawal, A., Guikema, S., Brown, D. 2021. Land-use changes associated with large-scale land transactions in Ethiopia. Ecology & Society, 26(4):34.
31. Liao, C., Erbaugh, J., Kelly, A., Agrawal, A. 2021. Clean Energy Transitions and Human Well-Being Outcomes in Lower and Middle Income Countries: A Systematic Review. Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, 145 (2021) 111063.
30. Chen, C., Long, X., Li, Z., Liao, C., Xie C., Che, S. 2021. Exploring the Determinants of Urban Green Space Utilization Based on Microblog Check-in Data in Shanghai, China. Forests, 2021, 12 1783.
29. Liao, C., Fei, D., Huang, Q., Jiang L., Shi, P. 2021. Targeted Poverty Alleviation through Photovoltaic-Based Intervention: Rhetoric and Reality in Qinghai, China. World Development, 137 (2021) 105117.
28. Fu, H., Zhang, Y., Liao, C., Mao, L., Wang, Z., Hong, N. 2020. Investigating PM 2.5 Responses to Air Pollutants and Meteorological Factors at Multiple Temporal Scales. Scientific Reports, 10:15639.
27. Liao, C., Agrawal, A., Clark, P., Levin, S., Rubenstein, D. 2020. Landscape Sustainability Science in the Drylands: Mobility, Rangeland and Livelihoods. Landscape Ecology, 35, 2433–2447.
26. Khatami, R., Southworth, J., Muir, C., Caughlin, T., Ayana, A., Brown, D., Liao, C., Agrawal, A. 2020. Operational Large-Area Land Cover Mapping: An Ethiopia Case Study. Remote Sensing, 2020, 12, 954.
25. Liao, C., Jung, S., Agrawal, A., Brown, D. 2020. Socio-Environmental Patterns of Large-Scale Land Transactions: Evidence from Ethiopia, Liberia, Cambodia, and Peru. Land Degradation and Development, 31 (10), 1241-1251.
24. Liao, C., Qiu, J., Chen, B., Chen, D., Fu, B., Georgescu, M., He, C., Jenerette, D., Li, X., Li, X., Li, X., Qiuying, B., Shi, P., Wu, J. 2020 Advancing Landscape Sustainability Science: Theoretical Foundation and Synergies with Innovations in Methodology, Design, and Application. Landscape Ecology, 35, 1-9.
23. Fei, D., Liao, C. 2019. China’s Eastern Industrial Zone in Ethiopia: Unpacking the Enclave. Third World Quarterly, 41 (4), 623-644.
22. Jung, S., Liao, C., Agrawal, A., Brown, D. 2019. Evidence on the Impacts of Forestry Concessions on Wealth in Liberia. Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, 6(5): 961-1000.
21. Hajjar, R., Ayana, A., Rutt, R., Hinde, O., Liao, C., Keene, S., Bandiaky-Badji, S., Agrawal, A. 2019. Capital, Labor, and Gender: The Consequences of Large-Scale Land Transactions on Household Labor Allocation. Journal of Peasant Studies, 47 (3), 566-588.
20. Liao, C., Fei, D. 2019. Poverty Reduction through Photovoltaic-Based Development Intervention in China: Potentials and Constraints. World Development, 122: 1-10.
19. Liao, C., Clark, P., DeGloria, S. 2018. Bush Encroachment Dynamics and Rangeland Management Implications in the Horn of Africa. Ecology and Evolution, 00: 1–10.
18. Agrawal, A. Hajjar, R., Liao, C., Rasmussen, L., Watkins, C. 2018. Editorial Overview: Forest Governance Interventions for Sustainability through Information, Incentives, and Institutions. Current Opinions in Environmental Sustainability, 32, A1–A7.
17. Liao, C., Brown, D., Fei, D., Long, X., Chen, D., Che, S. 2018. Big Data‐Enabled Social Sensing in Spatial Analysis: Potentials and Pitfalls. Transactions in GIS. 00: 1-21.
16. Liao, C., Brown D. 2018. Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture for Synergistic Outcomes in Food Production, Ecosystem Services, and Smallholder Livelihoods. Current Opinions in Environmental Sustainability, 32, 53-59.
15. Liao, C. Clark, P., Shibia, M., DeGloria, S. 2018. Spatio-Temporal Dynamics of Cattle Behaviors and Resource Selection Patterns in the Open Grazing System of East Africa. International Journal of Geographical Information Science. 32(7): 1523-1540.
14. Liao, C. 2018. Quantifying Multi-Scale Pastoral Mobility: Developing A Metrics System and Using GPS-Tracking Data for Evaluation. Journal of Arid Environments, 153, 88-97.
13. Liao, C., Clark, P. 2018. Rangeland Vegetation Diversity and Transition Pathways under Indigenous Pastoralist Management Regimes in Southern Ethiopia. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 215, 105-113.
12. Liao, C. 2018. Modeling Herding Decision-Making in the Extensive Grazing System in Southern Ethiopia. Annals of American Association of Geographers, 108 (1): 260-276.
11. Liao, C., Clark, P., DeGloria, S., Barrett, C. 2017. Complexity in the Spatial Utilization of Rangelands: Pastoral Mobility in Borana, Ethiopia. Applied Geography, 86, 208-219.
10. Liao, C., Fei, D. 2017. Pastoralist Adaptation Practices under Non-Governmental Development Interventions in Southern Ethiopia. The Rangeland Journal, 39 (2): 189-200.
9. Fei, D., Samatar, A., Liao, C. 2017. Chinese-African Encounters in High-Tech Sectors: Comparative Investigation of Chinese Workplace Regimes in Ethiopia. Development Policy Review, 36 (S1): O455-O475.
8. Liao, C. Fei, D. 2017. Sedentarization as Constrained Adaptation: Evidence from Pastoral Regions in Far Northwestern China. Human Ecology, 45 (1): 23-35.
7. Liao, C., Ruelle, M., Kassam, K-A. 2016. Indigenous Ecological Knowledge as the Basis for Adaptation to Rangeland Vegetation Regime Shifts: Evidence from Pastoralist Communities in the Horn of Africa. Journal of Environmental Management, 182 (2016): 70-79.
6. Liao, C., Jung, S., Brown, D., Agrawal, A. 2016. Insufficient Research on Land Grabbing. Science, 353 (6295): 131.
5. Liao, C., Fei, D. 2016. Resilience of What to What: Evidence from Pastoral Contexts in East Africa and Central Asia. Resilience: International Policies, Practices and Discourses, 4 (1): 14-29.
4. Liao, C., Barrett, C., Kassam, K.-A. 2015. Does Diversification Improve Livelihoods? Pastoral Households in Xinjiang, China. Development and Change, 46 (6): 1302-1330.
3. Liao, C., Morreale, S., Kassam, K.-A., Sullivan, P., Fei, D. 2014. Following the Green: Coupled pastoral migration and vegetation dynamics in the Altay and Tianshan Mountains of Xinjiang, China. Applied Geography, 46, 61–70.
2. Liao, C., Sullivan, P., Barrett, C., Kassam, K.-A. 2014. Socioenvironmental Threats to Pastoral Livelihoods: Risk Perceptions in the Altay and Tianshan Mountains of Xinjiang, China. Risk Analysis, 34 (4): 640–655.
1. Wang M., Liao C., Yang S., Zhao W., Liu M., Shi P. 2012. Are People Willing to Buy Natural Disaster Insurance in China? Risk Awareness, Insurance Acceptance, and Willingness to Pay. Risk Analysis 32 (10): 1717–1740.
2. Kassam, K-A., Liao, C., Dong S. 2016. Sociocultural and Ecological Systems of Pastoralism in Inner Asia: Cases from Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia in China and the Pamirs of Badakhshan, Afghanistan. In Dong, S., Kassam, K-A., Tourrand, J., Boone, R. (Ed) Building Resilience of Human-Natural Systems of Pastoralism in the Developing World. Springer.
1. Liao, C., Fei, D. 2016. The Operationalization of Resilience in Pastoral Regions in East Africa and Central Asia. In Chandler, D., Coaffee J. (Ed) Routledge Handbook of International Resilience. Taylor & Francis Group.
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The program seeks to nurture the careers of Cornell’s most promising faculty members in the social sciences by providing time and space for high-impact social scientific scholarship.
- Department of Global Development
- Global Development
- Polson Institute for Global Development
- Department of Global Development
- Global Development