Carl Bauer

Carl Bauer

Professor & Director, School of Geography, Development & Environment

I work on problems of water rights and water policy at the intersection of law, geography, and political economy.  My approach is comparative and interdisciplinary in research, teaching, and outreach.  I have studied issues of water markets and privatization, water conflicts and governance; hydroelectric power in relation to other water uses and to other sources of electric power; and the law and political economy of property rights and regulation.  My regional expertise is in the Western United States and Latin America, especially Chile where I have lived and worked for many years.  I work with graduate students and colleagues, both U.S. and foreign, to study water policies in the Americas as well as Spain, the European Union, Australia, and the international arena in general.  I am concerned with empirical issues of law and public policy and I aim to bridge the gap between academic and policy audiences. I am regularly interviewed about water policy by journalists, professionals, and students in Latin America, the U.S.A., and Europe.

My overall goal is to combine the fields of law-and-society (socio-legal studies) and geography (socio-environmental studies):  that is, to bring together different fields of law, history, geography, and political economy as they relate to water, land, and nature.  This interdisciplinary approach to human-environment relations, grounded in history and the physical world, is what geography means to me.  I have concentrated on water resources both because they are important in themselves and because water circulates through and ties together all other natural resources and environmental systems: thinking about water is a unique window on the world.  More generally, beyond water, I am interested in the relationship between market economics, legal and institutional arrangements, and environment.  My analytical approach emphasizes property rights because that is the area where all these fields overlap most closely.

Before coming to the University of Arizona, I spent seven years as a researcher at Resources for the Future in Washington, DC. I have been a consultant on water law, policy, and economics to international organizations including the United Nations, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and Global Water Partnership, and also to foreign governments and universities in Chile, Denmark, and Spain. I directed the UA Graduate Certificate in Water Policy during 2007-2013 and 2016-2021, and I have been a member of the Editorial Board for Water Alternatives since 2007.


  • Ph.D. (1995), M.A. (1990) Jurisprudence and Social Policy, University of California-Berkeley Law School
  • M.S. (1988) Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • B.A. (1983) Geology, Yale University, New Haven, CT.