Research and Teaching


I’m interested in many aspects of sustainability, but have specialized in water policy for the last 15 years. Currently, I’m engaged in research on marine debris (locally and globally), youth civic engagement, and how we learn from images.

You can find me on ResearchGate

with students

Working with a group of SCUBA divers and students to collect marine litter in Kovalam, Kerala, India, spring 2019.

2018-06-19 23.03.17

This photo is from a trip to the West Bank in the summer of 2018 as a part of the PAYCE program


I teach classes in American Government, Public Policy (including American, Environmental, and European), Research Methods, Climate Change, Food and Sustainability, Marine Debris, and Environmental Studies. My students routinely engage in community-based service-learning and often collaborate with me on research projects.


I often use the arts to teach scientific, civic, and policy concepts.

I ask students to integrate research with printmaking– here students were asked to create prints of endangered species.

Learn more about how to create a woodblock print by watching a short demonstration video here at the Research Gate page devoted to a workshop on this topic from the Association of Environmental Science and Studies annual meeting in Washington, DC, summer 2016.

As a part of the PAYCE grant, these students were asked to create comics of the colonists’ grievances from the Declaration of Independence.


You can find my latest publications on Google Scholar or Research Gate

Recent Grants

2020 River Engage: Connecting Community Around Plastic Pollution In The Aturukuku River In Tororo, Uganda, National Geographic Society, with Puspita Kamil, Komodo Survival Program, Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia and Hannington Ochieng, Busitema University, Tororo Uganda

2019, Principal Investigator, Experiential Learning with Indian Educators: Collecting Local Data to Share with Politicians and Scientists, National Geographic Society, with Jaya D.S., University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, India

2018-2019, Talking trash: engaging students in experiential learning and data collection on debris in India, Fulbright Nehru Scholar Grant, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India, January to June 2019.

2017, Palestinian American Youth Civic Engagement, Stevens Initiative, with Daniel Terris (principal investigator) Al-Quds University and Brandeis University, Mostafa B. Elostaz, Al Quds Bard College and Al Quds University, Stephen Pimpare, University of New Hampshire, Darcie Vandegrift, Drake University, Victor Eno, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, and Mohammed Sawalha, An-Najah National University.

2015-2016, Principal Investigator, From Shore to State House: Piloting a replicable service learning course on marine debris to engage college students and inform policy at the state level, NOAA Marine Debris Program, Marine Debris Prevention through Education and Outreach.

Recent Publications

Glover, R. Meagher, D. Lewis, and K.A. Owens (2020) “Advocating for Engagement: Do Experiential Learning Courses Boost Civic Engagement?” Journal of Political Science Education,

Haiying Liu, Katharine A. Owens, Ke Yang, Chunhong Zhang (2000) “Pollution Abatement Costs and Technical Changes under Different Environmental Regulations.” China Economic Review,

K.A. Owens and P.I. Kamil (2020) “Adapting Coastal Collection Methods for River Assessment to Increase Data on Global Plastic Pollution: Examples From India and Indonesia” Frontiers in Environmental Science, available online here:

K.A. Owens, V. Eno, J Abrams, and D. Bedney (2020) “Comic-Con: Can comics of the Constitution enable meaningful learning in political science?” PS: Political Science and Politics, available online through First View:

R.W. Glover, K. Cole, and K. A. Owens (2018) “ENACT-ing Leadership at the State Level: A National Educational Network for Engaged Citizenship in State Legislatures” Maine Policy Review, 27 (1), 22-26. Available as a free download through digital commons here. (How cool is that?)

K. A. Owens (2018) “Using experiential marine debris education to make an impact: collecting debris, informing policy makers, and influencing students,” Marine Pollution Bulletin, 127 (February), 804-810. available online here.  

K. A. Owens (2016) “Balancing environment and business through governance: nature protection policies in De Alde Feanen National Park, the Netherlands” in Problem Solving with the Private Sector. Daniel Bromberg, Ed. London, UK: Routledge.

K. A. Owens (2016) “Captioning Political Cartoons from Different Perspectives as a Tool for Student Reflection” in Learner-Centered Teaching Activities for Environmental and Sustainability Studies. Loren Byrne, Ed. New York: Springer.

K. A. Owens and S. Legere (2015) “What do we say when we talk about sustainability? Analyzing faculty, staff and student definitions of sustainability at one American University” International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 16 (3), 367-384.

K. A. Owens and C. L. Zimmerman (2013) “Local governance versus centralization: Connecticut wetlands governance as a model” Review of Policy Research, 30 (6), 629-656.

K. A. Owens and H. Bressers (2013) “A comparative assessment of how actors implement: testing the contextual interaction theory in 40 cases of wetland restoration” The Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, 15(3), 203-219.

K. A. Owens, M. Hughes, and E. Skoczenski (2013) “Testing of the Contextual Interaction Theory in the Evaluation of Cooperation and Collaboration of Water Management Projects in India” in Water Governance, Policy and Knowledge Transfer: International Studies on Contextual Water Management. Cambridge, UK: Earthscan.

C. L. Zimmerman and K. A. Owens (2012) “A local solution for climate change: the climate adaptation board” Sea Grant Law and Policy Journal, 5(1).

K. A. Owens (2010) “The Dutch land-use re-ordering process as a multi-stakeholder management strategy” in Governance and Complexity in Water Management: creating cooperation through boundary spanning strategies. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

K. A. Owens (2008) Understanding how actors influence policy implementation: a comparative study of wetland restorations in New Jersey, Oregon, the Netherlands, and Finland.Enschede, the Netherlands: University of Twente Press.

K. A. Owens and Dr. A. Halfacre-Hitchcock (2006) “As green as we think? The case of the College of Charleston green building initiative” International Journal for Sustainability in Higher Education, 7(2).

Dr A. Halfacre, K. A. Owens, K. Zimmerman, and Z. Hart (2004) “The green building project: promoting political science learning through a collaborative research approach” PS: Political Science & Politics, 37(2).

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