Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies


Office: HAC121C

Office Hours Fall 2017

M / T / W 9:30-10:30AM, TR 4:30-5:30PM, and other times by appointment (


Elizabeth De Santo is a human geographer with training in environmental law, history of international relations, environmental management, and marine zoology.  Her teaching and research focus on marine conservation and environmental governance, critically examining: (1) the efficacy of spatial approaches to conserving marine species and habitats, and (2)  the science-policy interface in environmental decision-making.  She is particularly interested in the challenges of effectively implementing Marine Protected Areas and biodiversity conservation worldwide. 

Prior to joining F&M, she taught in the Marine Affairs Program  and the College of Sustainability at Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia, Canada.  She has also held positions with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the World Environment Center, consultancies with the Office of the Auditor General of Canada and the Institute for European Environmental Policy, and she is a member of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law.   She is also a member of the Environmental Studies Section of the International Studies Association, and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

For more information on Dr. De Santo's teaching and research, please see her website.


Ph.D. Geography (co-supervised in Laws), University College London

M.Sc. History of International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science

M.E.M. Coastal Environmental Management, Duke University

B.A. Zoology (minor in Anthropology), Connecticut College

Research Areas

Environmental governance
Science-policy interface
Biodiversity conservation policy/politics
Marine/ocean policy
Marine Protected Areas
Marine conservation in the UK and European Union

Course Information

  • Prof. De Santo and research student Lea Senft '17 at IPBES-5 Plenary, Bonn, Germany, 2017.
  • Research student Lea Senft '17 at IPBES-5 Plenary, Bonn, Germany 2017.
  • IPBES Plenary-5, Bonn, Germany 2017.
  • ENV 314 / GOV 374 Global Environmental Politics simulated negotiation of UN Convention on Biological Diversity, Fall 2015
  • ENV 470 Marine Protected Areas students visiting the "Then this" exhibit of large seascape paintings by Ran Ortner at the Phillips Museum F&M, Spring 2016
  • ENV 470 Marine Protected Areas students visiting "Then this" exhibit of seascape paintings by Ran Ortner, in the Phillips Museum F&M
  • ENV 470 Marine Protected Areas students meeting with John Racanelli, President/CEO of National Aquarium, Spring 2016
  • ENV 470 Marine Protected Areas field trip to National Aquarium, Spring 2016

ENV/STS 117 - The Environment and Human Values
ENV 216 - Environmental Policy 
ENV 314/GOV 374 - Global Environmental Politics
ENV/GOV 320 - International Environmental Law
ENV 405 - Marine Protected Areas
ENV 490 - Independent Study

Student Research

ENV 490 Independent Studies

  • FA 2017 Olivia Richards - Evaluating the equity and efficiency of sanctuaries as an oyster management tool in the Chesapeake Bay.
  • FA 2016 Lea Senft - Present status and future trends of the science-policy interface: IPBES as a case study.
  • SP 2016 Lea Senft - A critical examination of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES):  improving mechanisms for stakeholder engagement.
  • SP 2016 Tyler Haas - The pristine myth: exploring the military legacy of  US Marine National Monuments in the Pacific.
  • FA 2015 Alyssa Dorman - "Blue-washing": a critical examination of ecolabeling and sustainable fishing.
  • SP 2015 Charles Ecker -  Deep seabed mining in the Area: an examination of past, present, and future issues.
  • SP 2015 Alanna Wittet - The developing regime for Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) of marine genetic resources on the high seas.

In the News

Research Takes Senior, Professor to Bonn UN Conference on Biodiversity - F&M News story by Peter Durantine (27 March 2017) on  our participation in the 5th IPBES Plenary.

Coverage in The Guardian:  Hawaii and other big marine protected areas 'could work against conservation' (2 September 2016).

The race for vast, remote 'marine protected areas' may be a diversion. Co-authored piece in The Conversation (1 September 2016).

Planning for equity and social justice in ocean use - interview in Marine Ecosystems and Managment (MEAM) newsletter, June 2016.

Initiative: Diving for Sea Turtles, Launching a Career ​- F&M News story by Peter Durantine (October 20, 2015) profiling my student Matthew Steinwurtzel's research internship examining the foraging ecology of turtles in California. 

Interviewed by Peter Durantine in F&M News (November 11, 2013) about using an exhibit of Hudson River School paintings to teach students about the evolution of environmental ethics: At F&M's Phillips Museum, An Exhibit for All Seasons.

Peer-reviewed publications

Please email me (  to request a PDF if you do not have library access to the journals below.  * indicates student co-author

De Santo, E.M. (in review) Marine Protected Areas in the Arctic and on the High Seas: current progress and future possibilities.  Contributed chapter in a volume on Governing Across the Waves  edited by Rebecca Pincus, for University of Chicago Press.

De Santo, E.M. (2017) California dreaming: challenges posed by transposing science-based marine protected area planning processes in different political contexts. Environmental Science & Policy 75: 38-46.

Jones, P.J.S. and De Santo, E.M. (2016) Viewpoint: Is the race for remote, very large marine protected areas (VLMPAs) taking us down the wrong path? Marine Policy 73: 231-234.

MacDonald, B.H., *Soomai, S.S., De Santo, E.M., and Wells, P.G., (2016) Science, Information and Policy Interface for Effective Coastal and Ocean Management. CRC Press. Link to book advertisement

De Santo, E.M. (2016) Assessing public  “participation” in environmental decision-making: lessons learned from the UK marine conservation zone site selection process. Marine Policy 64: 91-101.

De Santo, E.M. (2015) The Marine Strategy Directive as a catalyst for Maritime Spatial Planning: internal dimensions and institutional tensions. Chapter 6 in: Gilek, M. and Kern, K. (eds.). Governing Europe's Marine Environment: Europeanization of Regional Seas or Regionalization of EU Policies? Ashgate. PDF

Schnurr, M.A., De Santo, E.M., *Green, A., and *Taylor, A. (2015) Investigating student perceptions of knowledge acquisition within a role-play simulation of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Journal of Geography 114(3): 94-107. 

Schnurr, M.A., De Santo, E.M., and *Green, A. (2014) What do students learn from a role-play simulation of an international negotiation? Journal of Geography in Higher Education 38(3): 401-414.

De Santo, E.M. (2013) Missing marine protected area targets: how the push for quantity over quality undermines sustainability and social justice. Journal of Environmental Management 124: 137-146.

De Santo, E.M., Jones, P.J.S., Qiu, W., and Clifton, J. (Eds.),  (2013) Special issue of Marine Policy : “Governing Marine Protected Areas: towards socio-ecological resilience through institutional and biological diversity” containing sixteen case study analyses and the following three authored/co-authored articles:

  • Jones, P.J.S., De Santo, E.M., and Qiu, W. (2013) Introduction: an empirical framework for deconstructing the realities of governing marine protected areas. Marine Policy 41: 1-4.
  • Jones, P.J.S., Qiu, W., and De Santo, E.M. (2013) Governing marine protected areas: socio-ecological resilience through institutional and biological diversity. Marine Policy 41: 5-13.
  • De Santo, E.M. (2013) The Darwin Mounds Special Area of Conservation: implications for offshore marine governance. Marine Policy 41: 25-32.

Schnurr, M.A., De Santo, E.M., and *Craig, R. (2012) Using a blended learning approach to simulate the negotiation of a Multi-lateral Environmental Agreement. International Studies Perspectives 14(2): 109-120.

De Santo, E.M. (2012) Implications of the 10th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity for coastal management and marine protected areas. Ocean Yearbook 26: 249-263.

De Santo, E.M. (2012) From paper parks to private conservation: the role of NGOs in adapting marine protected area strategies to climate change. Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy 15: 25-40.

*Hinch, P., and De Santo, E.M. (2011) Factors to consider in evaluating the management and conservation effectiveness of a whale sanctuary to conserve the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis).  Marine Policy 35(2): 163-180.

De Santo, E.M., Jones, P.J.S., and *Miller, A. (2011) Fortress conservation at sea: a commentary on the Chagos marine protected area. Marine Policy 35(2): 258-260.

De Santo, E.M. (2011) Environmental justice implications of Maritime Spatial Planning in the European Union.  Marine Policy 35(1): 34-38.

De Santo, E.M. (2010) “Whose science?” Precaution and power play in European environmental decision-making. Marine Policy 34(3): 414-420.

De Santo, E.M., and Jones, P.J.S. (2007) Offshore marine conservation in the North East Atlantic: emerging challenges and opportunities. Marine Policy 31(3): 336-347.

De Santo, E.M., and Jones, P.J.S. (2007) The Darwin Mounds: from undiscovered coral to the emergence of an offshore marine protected area regime. Bulletin of Marine Science Volume 81 Supplement 1: 147-156. Copy of paper

Harvey, A.W., and De Santo, E.M. (1997) A new species of Pachycheles from the Hawaiian Islands (Crustacea: Decapoda: Porcellanidae). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 110(1): 65-68.

Harvey, A.W., and De Santo, E.M. (1996) On the status of Pachycheles laevidactylus Ortmann, 1892 (Crustacea: Decapoda: Porcellanidae). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 109(4): 704-714.

De Santo, E.M., and Fell, P.E. (1996) The distribution and ecology of freshwater sponges in Connecticut. Hydrobiologia 341: 81-89.

Reports and other publications

* indicates peer-reviewed

De Santo, E.M. (2014) Review of Conservation on the High Seas: Harmonizing International Regimes for the Sustainable Use of Living Resources by Simone Borg (2012), for the Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy 17: 81-84.

*Jessen, S., Chan, K., Côté, I., Dearden, P., De Santo, E., Fortin, M.J., Guichard, F., Haider, W., Jamieson, G., Kramer, D.L., McCrea-Strub, A., Mulrennan, M., Montevecchi, W.A., Roff , J., Salomon, A., Gardner, J., Honka, L., Menafra, R., and Woodley, A. (2011) Science-based Guidelines for MPAs and MPA Networks in Canada. Vancouver: Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. 58 pp. 

De Santo, E.M. (2011) Review of Ocean Zoning: making marine management more effective by Tundi Agardy (2010), for the International Journal of Maritime History 23: 401-402.

*Jones, P.J.S., Qiu, W., and De Santo, E.M. (2011) Governing MPAs: a guide to getting the balance right.  UNEP Technical Report DEP/1379/NA, ISBN 978-92-807-3159-0. 

De Santo, E.M. (2010) Marine Protected Areas on the Eastern Scotian Shelf: MAP’s perspective on selecting the next Area of Interest. Marine Affairs Policy Forum, June 2010 Volume 2, issue 2. 

Lutchman I., Grieve C., Des Clers S., and De Santo E. (2009) Towards a reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in 2012 – A CFP Health Check. Institute for European Environmental Policy, London, 80 pp.

De Santo, E.M. (2008) Furthering the Implementation of Marine Protected Areas in Europe – An Analysis of Legal Frameworks. Institute for European Environmental Policy, London, 44 pp.