Xavier Basurto

Xavier Basurto

Associate Professor of Sustainability Science

I am interested in the fundamental question of how groups (human and non-human) can find ways to self-organize, cooperate, and engage in successful collective action for the benefit of the common good. To do this I strive to understand how the institutions (formal and informal rules and norms) that govern social behavior, interplay with biophysical variables to shape social-ecological systems. What kind of institutions are better able to govern complex-adaptive systems? and how can societies (large and small) develop robust institutions that provide enough flexibility for collective learning and adaptation over the long-term?

My academic and professional training is based on a deep conviction that it is through integrating different disciplinary perspectives and methods that we will be able to find solutions to challenging dilemmas in natural resources management, conservation, and environmental policy. Trained as a marine biologist, I completed a M.S in natural resources studying small-scale fisheries in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Realizing the need to bring social science theories into my work on common-pool resources sustainability, I earned an MPA and a Ph.D. in Management (with a minor in cultural anthropology) from the University of Arizona and under the supervision of Edella Schlager. Following I spent two years working with Elinor Ostrom, 2009 co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, at the Workshop for Political Theory and Policy Analysis of Indiana University. Methodologically, I am familiar with a variety of quantitative and qualitative approaches and formally trained to conduct Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA or more recently fsQCA), that allows among other things, systematic comparisons of middle range N sample sizes and address issues of multiple-causality.

In The News


Basurto, Xavier, Esther Blanco, Mateja Nenadovic, and Björn Vollan. “Integrating simultaneous prosocial and antisocial behavior into theories of collective action..” Science Advances 2, no. 3 (March 4, 2016). https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1501220.

Recent Grants


ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects (ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects)
ENVIRON 394: Research Independent Study (ENVIRON 394: Research Independent Study)
ENVIRON 393A: Research Independent Study (ENVIRON 393A: Research Independent Study)
ENVIRON 899: Master's Project (ENVIRON 899: Master's Project)
ENVIRON 528SA: Community-Based Marine Conservation in the Gulf of California (ENVIRON 528SA: Community-Based Marine Conservation in the Gulf of California)

Contact Information

135 Duke Marine Lab Road
Beaufort, NC 28516


Ph.D., University of Arizona (2007)
M.P.A., University of Arizona (2004)
M.S., University of Arizona (2001)