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Idaho State University

ISU Political Science Chair Travels to Ireland to Conduct Sustainability Research

ISU Political Science Chair Travels to Ireland to Conduct Sustainability Research


Donna Lybecker, chair of Idaho State University’s Department of Political Science, traveled to Galway, Ireland, this July to further develop her research on sustainable lifestyles.

Lybecker, who researches environmental politics, received an invitation from the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) to act as a visiting researcher with the Planning and Sustainability Cluster in NUIG’s geography department. While in Ireland, she worked with colleagues on a project focusing on household sustainability practices.

“This type of work informs not only my research, but also allows me to represent the political science department, the College of Arts & Letters and ISU on an international stage,” she said. “It is these types of connections that draw others around the world to the work done by a variety of scholars at ISU.”

The project uses data from surveys conducted in both Ireland and Oregon. Lybecker designed the survey with Oregon State University’s Erika Allen Wolters, who also traveled to Ireland as a visiting fellow. In Ireland, the pair worked closely with Frances Fahy, the researcher who extended the invitation to travel to NUIG.

Comparing the results from the distinct locations produced surprising similarities, Lybecker said. Individuals in both Ireland and Oregon understood the need for sustainability actions like conserving water but expressed opposition to policies such as raising taxes to address shortages.

“Understanding what practices and policies would be supported by the public is important for moving forward with conservation actions,” Lybecker said.

Lybecker has previously acted as a visiting researcher at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, in 2016. She was an invited speaker at the University of Québec in Montreal, Canada, last year and has given presentations at a number of international conferences, including in Mexico and Canada.

She said her time spent speaking and conducting research at international universities benefits her instruction at ISU.

“International experiences give me additional resources, experience and stories to bring back to the classroom,” Lybecker said. “I believe research informs teaching, and teaching informs research.”

Written by: Madison Shumway, College of Arts & Letters intern