Areas of Interest & Expertise
- Ecological Economics
- Agrarian Studies
My three decades old career life revolves around the interface of society, development and ecosystems. It evolved from that of a field officer to field research and conceptual explorations, and then towards action research and advocacy. Geographically these engagements span across peri urban zones, production landscapes and forest peripheries.
Obtaining a bachelor’s degree (1982−86) from Kerala Agricultural University provided a multi-disciplinary base that kindled my interest towards Economics, especially towards Indian economy. Leaving a secure position as an Agricultural officer with the government, I pursued my first Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics with a dissertation on the economic impact of industrial pollution on farmers. This published work trained my interest within economics towards environmental Economics, then a newly emerging field. While working as a research assistant at the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi, I joined the Environmental Economics program at University College London, aided by a Ford Foundation fellowship. With UCL I embarked on a long journey with the concept and practice of sustainability. The journey as an environmental economist began with a global scale economic valuation of tropical forests followed by a decade long involvement in projects around water and forest related issues in different Indian states. For the next five years, I was engaged in field research using Environmental Economics to study adivasi communities of southern India, culminating in my doctoral thesis on the economics of tribal land use.
My field experience and engagement with the discourse on sustainable development together with involvement in networks like SANDEE (South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics) and INSEE (Indian Society for Ecological Economics) infused the need for social-institutional, distributional and political dimensions of sustainability in my work. Nine years spent at ATREE (Ashoka Trust for Ecology and the Environment) from 2003, just before joining the university, helped me sharpen this interdisciplinary lens. This equipped me to teach and apply the field of Ecological Economics. My teaching experience has been mostly with interdisciplinary programs at both PhD and Master’s levels. Long encounter with field realities mostly in India (along with some exposure in Latin America, West & Central Africa, South Asia as well as China) together with the insights gleaned from the diverse and interactive community at the university catalysed the emergence of an action researcher cum real time educator in me. By now (2021), I have spent nearly a decade at the university, integrating concepts and realities in teaching, while doing inclusive action research and advocacy.
Economics of Sustainability: Exploring Perspectives and Possibilities
What are the economics of creating a sustainable world?
Ecology and Development in India
The history and socio-economic impact of development interventions on ecological systems.
- Purushothaman, S., & Patil, S. (2019). Agrarian change and Urbanization in Southern India. Springer Nature, Singapore. https://azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/SitePages/pdf/Purushothaman_Patil_2019_City_the_Peasant.pdf
- Purushothaman, S., & Abraham, R. (Ed.). (2013). Livelihood Strategies in Southern India — Conservation and Poverty Reduction in Forest Fringes. Springer, New Delhi, India. (Flyer)
- Azim Premji University.(2021, March 17). Green carpet or green desert? [Video].Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKc-sHbl21w
- Azim Premji University (2021, September). Growing Cities and Shrinking Agriculture.
- Bursztyn, M., & Purushothaman, S. (2022). Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary scholarship for a civilisation in distress: Questions for and from the Global South, Global Social Challenges Journal, 1(1), 94 – 114. https://doi.org/10.1332/LBEQ6699
- Purushothaman, Sadashiva and Dhanush. 2022. Agroecological Impacts of Urban Demand for Fresh Vegetables: Preliminary Insights from Exploratory Surveys in Bengaluru.Ecology, Economy and Society – the INSEE Journal 5 (2): 107 – 117.
- Purushothaman, S. (2019). Sustainability: challenges in teaching. Ecology, Economy and Society – the INSEE journal. 2(2),33 – 36. https://doi.org/10.37773/ees.v2i2.73 (PDF)
- Purushothaman,S. (2019). The science and economics of family farms. Guest editorial. Current Science. 117 (11), 1763 – 1764.(PDF)
- Patil, S., Dhanya, B., Vanjari, R S.,& Purushothaman,S. (2018). Urbanisation and New Agroecologies — The story of Bengaluru’s Peripheries. Economic and Political Weekly, 53(41), 71 – 77. (PDF)
- Purushothaman, S., & Patil,S. (2017). Regional Economies and Small Farmers in Karnataka. Economic and Political Weekly, 52(46), 78 – 84. (PDF)
- Purushothaman, S., et al (2016). Sustainability in Higher Education for the Global South: A Conversation across Geographies and Disciplines. Sustainability in Debate, 7(1), 156 –173. (PDF)
- Dhanya, B., Satish, B.N., Viswanath, S., & Purushothaman,S. (2014). Ecosystem services of native trees: experience from two traditional agroforestry systems in Karnataka, Southern India. International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services and Management, 10(2), 101 – 111.
- Purushothaman, S., Patil, S., Francis, I., Patil, I., & Nesheim,I. (2013). Policy and Governance for sustaining livelihoods and natural resources in small farms — a case study in Karnataka. Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 68 (2),240 – 257. (PDF)
- Purushothaman, S., Thomas, B.K., Abraham,R., & Dhar,U. (2013). Beyond money metrics: Alternative approaches to conceptualising and assessing ecosystem services. Guest editorial to the INSEE special section. Conservation and Society 11(4), 321 – 325. (PDF)
- Konig, H.J., Uthes,S., Schuler, J., Zhen, L., Purushothaman,S., Suarma, U., Sghaier,M., Makokha, S., Helming,K., Sieber,S., Chen,L., Brouwer,F., Morris,J., & Wiggering, H. (2013) Regional impact assessment of land use scenarios in developing countries using the FoPIA approach: Findings from five case studies. Journal of Environmental Management, 127(Suppl.), S56 – S64.
- Dhanya, B., Viswanath, S. & Purushothaman, S. (2013) Crop yield reduction in Ficus agroforestry systems of Karnataka, southern India: Perceptions and realities. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, 37(6), 727 – 735.
- Dhanya, B., Viswanath, S., & Purushothaman, S. (2012). Ficus trees in rainfed agricultural systems of Karnataka, southern India: An analysis of structure, benefits, and farmers’ perceptions. Journal of Tropical Agriculture, 50(1 – 2), 59 – 62.
- Purushothaman, S., Patil, S., & Francis, I. (2012). Assessing the impact of policy-driven agricultural practices in Karnataka, India. Sustainability Science, 8(2), 173 – 185. doi: 10.1007/s11625-012‑0188‑y
- Purushothaman, S., Patil, S., Francis, I., Konig, H.J., Reidsma, P., & Hegde, S. (2012): Participatory impact assessment of agricultural practices using the land use functions framework: case study from India, International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management, 9(1), 2 – 12. doi:10.1080/21513732.2012.721
- Purushothaman, S., Patil, S., & Francis, I. (2012). Impact of policies favouring organic inputs on small farms in Karnataka, India: a multicriteria approach. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 14(4), 507 – 527.
- Patil, S., et al. (2012). Comparing conventional and organic agriculture in Karnataka, India: Where and when can organic farming be sustainable? Land Use Policy, 37 (40 – 51).
- Purushothaman, S., & Abraham, R. (2011). Scaling up and Sustainability: the experience from rural India. Sustainability in Debate. 2(2),21 – 42. (PDF)
- Reidsma, P., Konig, H., Feng, S., Bezlepkina, I., Nesheim, I., Bonin, M., Sghaier, M., Purushothaman, S., Sieber, S., Ittersum, M., & Brouwer, F. (2011). Methods and tools for integrated assessment of land use policies on sustainable development in developing countries. Land Use Policy, 28 (3), 604 – 617.
- Viswanath, S., Dhanya, B., Puruhsothaman, S., & Rathore, S. (2010). Financial viability of sandal based agroforestry practices in southern India. Indian Journal of Agroforestry, 12 (2), 14 – 22. (PDF)
- Dhanya, B. Viswanath, S & Purushothaman, S. (2010). Sandal (Santalum album L.) conservation in southern India: A review of policies and their impacts. Journal of Tropical Agriculture, 48 (1−2), 1 – 10.
- Purushothaman, S & Kashyap, S. (2010). Trends in land use and crop acreages in Karnataka and their repercussions. Karnataka Journal of Agricultural Sciences, 23 (2), 330 – 333. (PDF)
- Purushothaman, S., Hegde,S. S., Patil,S., & Kashyap,S. (2009). People’s perception on benefits from a protected catchment: A case study of Gundal command in Karnataka. Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 64(4), 573 – 584. (PDF)
- Purushothaman, S. (2005). Land-use Strategies for Tribals: A Socio Economic Analysis. Economic and Political Weekly, 40(53), 5611 – 5619. (PDF)
- Swaminathan, L.P., & Purushothaman, S.(2000). Forest Conservation, Tourism and Extraction: An Economic Perspective. Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics 55(3), 398– 411. (PDF)
- Purushothaman, S., Viswanath, S., & Kunhikkannan, C. (2000). Economic valuation of extractive conservation in a tropical deciduous forest in Madhya Pradesh, India. Tropical Ecology, 41(1), 61– 72.
- Purushothaman, S., Viswanath, S., & Mukundan, K. (1997). Economic impact of cement kiln dust on rural agriculture. Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 51(3), 407 – 411.
- Purushothaman, S., & Viswanath, S. (1993). Protecting biological diversity: An operational model to compare and contrast. Indian Journal of Tropical Biodiversity,1 (2), 161 – 166.
Selected articles from periodicals and media
- Purushothaman,S., & Devi, R. (n.d). Complete and Effective Implementation of FRA1 in Kerala: Strategies and Approaches. Practice Connect. Azim Premji University. https://practiceconnect.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/complete-and-effective-implementation-of-fra-in-kerala-strategies-and-approaches/
- Purushothaman,S., & Patil, S. (2020, August 17). Resilience during the pandemic – lessons from the family farms of Yadgir. The News Minute. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/resilience-during-pandemic-lessons-family-farms-yadgir-130919
- Purushothaman,S., Singh, S., & Patil, S.(2020, September 5). Tackling Covid: Overcoming pandemic despair. Financial Express. https://www.financialexpress.com/opinion/tackling-covid-overcoming-pandemic-despair/2075285/
- Purushothaman,S. (2020, September 26) What is the purpose of education? Manorama Online. https://www.manoramaonline.com/education/horizon/2020/09/26/what-Is-the-purpose-of-education.html
- Purushothaman, S., Patil, S., & Shwetha, A.R (2019). Agriculture and Urbanisation in Karnataka (Karnatakadalli krushi mathu nagarikarana). Yojana, 5(35). 29 – 33.(PDF)
- Dhanya, B., Viswanath, S., Purushothaman, S.,& Suneeta, B. (2010). Ficus trees as components of rainfed agrarian systems in Mandya district of Karnataka. My Forest, 46 (2),161 – 165. (PDF)
- Krishnan, S., & Purushothaman, S .(2008). Value of Deforestation? Down To Earth, 17(6),52 – 53.
- Purushothaman, S., & Dharmarajan, P. (2005). Upland paddies, foliage hillocks and multi-storeyed horticulture: an ecologically sustainable agro-ecosystem. APANews. FAO ‚27(11 – 13).
- Purushothaman, S., & Hegde, S. (2010,February 2). Forest and farms- a thankless delink. Spectrum. Deccan Herald.
- Purushothaman, S. (2010, January 16). Fringe benefits taxed. Down to Earth,18(17), 52 – 53. (PDF)
- Phalkey, N., & Purushothaman, S. (2010, February 15). The tourist does leave a footprint. Down to Earth.
Working papers and policy briefs
- Seema Purushothaman, Sheetal Patil, Parijat Ghosh, Dibyendu Chaudhuri, Amit Kumar Singh, Bibhubanta Barad, Saurabh Singh, Jostine A and Mahendra Kumar Singh (2022). Towards a New Development Equilibrium among the Forest Dependent Adivasis of Central India — A Case for Agrarian Adaptive Skilling (APU Working Paper No.25)https://azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/publications/2022/working-paper-series/towards-a-new-development-equilibrium-among-the-forest-dependent-adivasis-of-central-india-a-case-for-agrarian-adaptive-skilling
- Purushothaman and Vanjari.2022. One Part Farmers: Villages two decades after land acquisition for the Bengaluru International Airport. Working Paper 23. Azim Premji University. Bangalore. https://azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/publications/2022/article/working-paper-series-one-part-farmers-villages-two-decades-after-land-acquisition-for-the-bengaluru-international-airport
- Purushothaman, S., Patil,S., Raghvendra, S., Vanjari, R.S., & Shwetha, A. R. (2021). Urban Wastewater for Agriculture: Farmers’ Perspectives from Peri-urban Bengaluru (Working Paper No. 20), Azim Premji University.
- Purushothaman, S, Patil, S., & Lodha, S. (2016). Social and Environmental Transformation in the Indian Peri-Urban Interface — Emerging Questions.
(Working Paper No. 1). Azim Premji University.(PDF)
- Lele, S., Kashyap, S., & Purushothaman, S. (2008). Status paper on the Common lands in Karnataka [submitted to the parliamentary subcommittee on land reforms]
- Nesheim, I., D. McNeill, F. Brouwer, P. Reidsma, H. Konig, R. Verburg, J. Imbernon, M. Bonin, Y. Cisse, L. Gcahimbi, M. Sghaier, S. Feng, S. Purushothaman, M. W. T. Estuning, S. Rodrigues, and M. Bursztyn, (2008a). Integrative Policy Brief from LUPIS project, EU 6th Framework Programme, www.lupis.eu.
- Nesheim, I., D. McNeill, F. Brouwer, P. Reidsma, H. Konig, R. Verburg, J. Imbernon, M. Bonin, S. Feng, S. Purushothaman, and M. W. T. Estuning, (2008b). Regional policy brief for Asia. LUPIS project, EU 6th Framework Programme, www.lupis.eu.
- Purushothaman, S. (2005). Land-use strategies, economic options and stakeholder preferences: A study of tribal communities in forest peripheries. (Working Paper 13 – 05), South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE) Kathmandu, Nepal.
- Purushothaman, S. (2006). Making Tribal Land Profitable — A study from the Western Ghats of India. (Policy Brief 12 – 06), SANDEE. (PDF)
- Pearce, D.W., & Purushothaman, S.(1992). Preserving Biological Diversity: The economic value of pharmaceutical plants. (Discussion Paper), 92 – 27, CSERGE, London.
Chapters in books and published proceedings
- Patil, S., & Purushothaman, S. (2020). Landowners as Non-farm Workers: A Case of Small Farmer Migrants in Karnataka. In Mishra,D.K., & Nayak,P. (Ed.), Land and Livelihoods in Neoliberal India (pp. 85 – 102).Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore.
- Patil, S., & Purushothaman,S. (2018) Methods for Integrated Sustainability Assessment: The Case of Smallholder Farming in Karnataka, South India. In Brinkman, R., & Garren, S. (Ed.), The Palgrave Handbook of Sustainability: Case Studies and Practical Solutions(pp. 261 – 281). Palgrave MacMillan.
- Purushothaman, S., Abraham, R., & Patil, S. (2013). Tropical farms as social-ecological systems: Tools for assessment. In Christinck,A., & Padmanabhan,M. (Ed.), Cultivate Diversity! A Hand Book on Transdisciplinary Approaches to Agro Biodiversity Research (pp.163 – 183). Margraf publishers. Welkersheim, Germany.
- Purushothaman, S., Patil, S., & Kashyap, S. (2012) Agrarian crisis and policy links: a framework for Karnataka, India. In Floor, B., Mc Neil, D., & Nishiem, I. (Ed.), Land Use Policies for Sustainable Development: Exploring Integrated Assessment Tools (pp 167 – 189). Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham.
- Muriel, B., Coudel, E., Cisse, Y., Feng, S., Ounalli, N., Purushothaman, S., Rodrigues F. S., Sghaier, M., Tonneau, J.P., & Xiaoping, S. (2012) Comparing land use policies in emerging and developing countries. In Floor, B., Mc Neil, D., & Nishiem, I. (Ed.), Land Use Policies for Sustainable Development: Exploring Integrated Assessment Tools (pp. 248 – 282). Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham.
- Purushothaman, S. (2012).“Evaluating the Green Revolution” In Jacquet, P., Pachauri, R.K., & Tubiana, L. (Ed.), Development, the Environment and Food: Towards Agricultural Change? (pp.164 – 166) TERI Press, New Delhi. (PDF)
- Kumar, A., Arvind, N.A., Shaanker, R. U., Ganeshaiah, K.N., Purushothaman, S., & Kashyap, S. (2009). Herbal exports from India- Trends and implications. In Shaanker, R.U., Hiremath, A., Joseph, C. G., & Rai, N. (Ed.), Non-Timber Forest Produce- Conservation, Policies and Management in the tropics (pp: 129 – 138). ATREE and UAS. .
- Purushothaman, S., & Viswanath, S. (2009). Sustaining livelihoods based on NTFPs — the Indian context. In Shaanker, R.U., Hiremath, A., Joseph, C. G., & Rai, N. (Ed.), Non-Timber Forest Produce- Conservation, Policies and Management in the tropics (pp.200 – 209). ATREE Bangalore. (PDF)
- Dharmarajan, P., Purushothaman, S., Krishnan, S., Kiran, M.C., Deepak, D., & Jojo, T.D. (2008). Strengthening Communities and Institutions for sustainable management of Vembanad backwaters, Kerala. In Sengupta, M., & Dalwani,R. (Ed.). Proceedings of the 12th World Lake Conference (pp. 1158 – 1163). ATREE and UAS. (PDF)
- Purushothaman, S., Jojo, T.D., & Patil, S. (2007). Ecotourism Policy: A framework for India. In Radhakrishna, G. (Ed.),Tourism: Perspectives and Issues (pp. 51 – 78). ICFAI press, Hyderabad.
- Purushothaman, S. (2004). Economic Value of Bio diversity: a Rural Perspective for Sustainable Realisation. In Sim, H.C., Appanah, S., & Youn, Y.C.(Ed.), Proceedings of the workshop on“Forests for Poverty Reduction: Opportunities with CDM, Environmental Services and Biodiversity (pp.107 – 113). Seoul National University and FAO . (PDF)
- Purushothaman, S., Pachauri, S. (2001). User valuation of natural Resources in semi arid Rajasthan. In Reddy, V.R. (Ed.), User Valuation of Renewable Natural Resource: The User Perspective, Nova Science Publishers, Inc., New York. pp. 89 ‑100.
- Pearce, D.W., & Purushothaman, S.(1992). Protecting Biological Diversity: The economic value of pharmaceutical plants. In Swanson, J. (Ed.), Biodiversity and Botany: the values of medicinal plants (pp.127 – 138). CUP.U.K (PDF)
- Adaptive Skilling through Action Research in the tribal villages of Central India https://www.pradan.net/sampark/adaptive-skilling-through-action-research-asar/
- Forest Rights Act – facilitating the implementation of the Act as a knowledge partner in Kerala and Rajasthan
- Impact of urban consumption on periurban ecology and farmers around Bengaluru (2021 to 2024) – a study funded by the Ministry of Science & Technology of Govt. of India as part of Indo-German scientific collaboration