Doctoral Dissertation Defense: Atesmachew Hailegiorgis

Monday, December 2 - 11:00 a.m.
162 Research Hall
Fairfax Campus

Doctoral Dissertation Defense: Computational Modeling of Climate Change, Large-Scale Land Acquisition, and Household Dynamics in Southern Ethiopia

Atesmachew Hailegiorgis, PhD Candidate
Department of Computational Social Science
George Mason University

Abstract: This dissertation investigates, models, and tests hypotheses on how the current surge in large-scale land acquisition might affect rural livelihood in developing countries. The focus is on southern Ethiopia, specifically the South Omo zone, where ongoing large-scale land acquisition transactions, climate-stressed rural communities, and biodiversity provide a valuable research opportunity to better understand these complex dynamics. The study presents a computational model, OMOLAND, which is a spatial agent-based model that explicitly represents the main components of the rural system (households, enterprises, the state institution, climate, and biophysical environment), their interactions, and dynamics. The study contributes to broaden current scientific understanding of complex coupled human and natural systems through explicitly modeling the dynamics of heterogeneous actors, institutions, and their environments. The modeling approach complements current efforts aimed at integrating GIS and agent-based models for basic research and policy analysis, providing an innovative and significant methodological thrust in computational social science and geospatial modeling.