L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs



Avrum Shriar

Distinguished Career Professor

Phone: 804-355-8473 Email: ajshriar@vcu.edu


  • Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Rural Planning and Development
  • International Development


  • BA, Geography, Bishop’s University (Lennoxville, Quebec)
  • MES, Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
  • PhD, Geography, University of Florida (Gainesville), Phi Beta Kappa


Physical Geography; History of Human Settlement; Regional Geography of Latin America and the Caribbean; Environmental Management; Food Systems, Rural Development, and Landscape Conservation; Natural Resources and Environmental Planning; Global Economic Change and Development; Rural Development for Socioeconomic and Ecological Resilience (service-learning, field course in Guatemala); Environmental Planning and Community Health (taught in Madrid and Córdoba, Spain).


Shriar’s research interests include environmental planning, policy, and evaluation; rural development and farming systems; cultural and political ecology; and international development policies and programming.  More specifically, his work has focused primarily on three topics: a) farmer decision-making and agricultural change; b) factors contributing to poverty, land degradation, and deforestation in rural regions of developing countries; and c) strategies and policies that can help alleviate these problems.


Prior to pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Florida, Shriar served for six years as a consultant in environmental planning and rural development in the Andes, the Caribbean, Canada and Vietnam. His doctoral dissertation, for which he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, is entitled “Agricultural Intensification and Resource Conservation in the Buffer Zone of the Maya Biosphere Reserve, Petén, Guatemala.” He has since conducted additional fieldwork in Petén on several occasions to examine the impacts of regional economic integration on agricultural land use, the rural economy, and forest cover. In 2003, he studied food security and rural poverty issues in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala on behalf of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Spanish International Cooperation Agency (AECI). In 2005 and 2017 he conducted fieldwork on irrigation systems in Bolivia as a follow-up to research conducted as a consultant in the mid-1990s.  His most recent work has focused on land preservation strategies in Virginia, and on the local economic impacts of different types of agriculture in the state.  Shriar has done research or consulting work in 15 countries, and has traveled and trekked in about 60 countries.  In addition to his native English, he speaks Spanish fluently and French at an advanced level.

Select Publications

Shriar, Avrum J. and Akins, Alissa. 2018. “Transfer of Development Rights, Growth Management, and Landscape Conservation in Virginia.”  Local Environment 23(1): 1-19.

Shriar, Avrum J. 2014 “Theory and Context in Analyzing Livelihoods, Land Use, and Land Cover: Lessons from Petén, Guatemala.” Geoforum 55: 152-163.

Shriar, Avrum J. 2011. “Economic Integration, Rural Hardship, and Conservation on Guatemala’s Agricultural Frontier.” Journal of Sustainable Forestry 30 (1-2):133-157. [Special issue on: Conservation and the Agricultural Frontier: Integrating Forests & Agriculture in the Tropics.]

Shriar, Avrum J. 2010. “Destitution through ‘Development’: A Case Study of the Laka Laka Project in Cochabamba, Bolivia.” Sustainability 2: 3239-3257. [Special Issue on: Land Use and Sustainability.]

Shriar, Avrum J. 2009. “Roads to Poverty: Exploring the Impacts of Economic Integration on Socioeconomic Conditions and Land Use in Northern Guatemala.” Journal of Planning Education and Research 28: 456-469.

Shriar, Avrum J. 2007. “In Search of Sustainable Land Use and Food Security in the Arid Hillside Regions of Central America: Putting the Horse before the Cart.” Human Ecology 35(3): 275-287.

Shriar, Avrum J. 2006. “Regional Integration or Disintegration? Recent Road Improvements in Petén, Guatemala: A Review of Preliminary Agricultural, Economic, and Environmental Impacts.” Geoforum 37: 104-112.

*Article is featured in the Library of Congress Handbook of Latin American Studies (Volume 63).

Shriar, Avrum J. 2005.  “Determinants of Agricultural Intensity Index Scores in a Frontier Region: An Analysis of Data from Northern Guatemala.” Agriculture and Human Values 22: 395-410.

Shriar, Avrum J. 2002. “Land Use, Deforestation, and Food Security in Northern Guatemala.” Food Policy 27(4): 395-414.

Shriar, Avrum J. 2001. “The Dynamics of Agricultural Intensification and Resource Conservation in the Buffer Zone of the Maya Biosphere Reserve, Petén, Guatemala.” Human Ecology 29(1): 27-48.

*Article is featured in the Library of Congress Handbook of Latin American Studies (Volume 61).

Shriar, Avrum J. 2000. “Agricultural Intensity and Its Measurement in Frontier Regions.” Agroforestry Systems 49: 301-318.