Skip to Content

Lab of Dr. Vince Lopes


Dr Vincente Lopes

 Vicente L. Lopes, Ph.D

Professor of Environmental Studies
Department of Biology
Texas State University - San Marcos

Freeman Aquatic Building 116
Phone: (512)245-6709
Fax: (512)245-7919


Postal Address:
Department of Biology
601 University Drive
Texas State University
San Marcos, Texas 78666



Sustainability Science  


Building the Foundation for a Sustainable Society






Sustainability science is a community-based systems inquiry into human-environment relations. It is a purposeful search for a connected understanding that we humans are an inseparable and integral part of the wider community of life on Earth that evolves through intimate and interdependent relationships in an ever-renewing process. Although partly inspired by the science of ecology and systems thinking, sustainability science draws upon much wider philosophical traditions, including Indigenous and other "non-Western" ways of knowing.

Sustainability science advocates a participatory science of qualities, values and interactions which underpins an ecological worldview. Central to its approach is a concern for changing patterns of human behavior that have become an imminent danger to the health of the planet, and the cultivation of new forms of human experience and action that are more harmoniously aligned with the the natural world and the larger cosmic order within which we dwell.

My research in sustainability science blends philosophy and ecology with systems thinking and policy analysis to develop a more integrally-informed understanding of human-environment relations. I am particularly interested in (1) understanding patters and processes that disrupt the ability of human and natural systems to renew or reorganize themselves, (2) restoring the resilience of human and natural communities, and (3) fostering active learning and community participation.

Education and research opportunities in Sustainability Science at Texas State University




My teaching activities at Texas State University include directing thesis and dissertations, mentoring, and teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in hydrology and environmental studies with a focus on sustainability science. I also organize and teach graduate seminars on topics related to sustainability.


Courses taught frequently: 

FlumeEnvironmental Hydrology

Managing for healthy watersheds requires a systemic (holistic) understanding of hydrologic and geomorphic processes operating at the watershed level. This course explores the properties, distribution and movement of water occurring within watersheds, their relationship to land use/land cover, and methods to assess the impacts of human activities on water quantity and quality.

EarthHuman-Environment Linkages

The gravity and complexity of the global environmental crisis calls for a systemic (holistic) approach to the study of human-environment relations. At a minimum, such an approach should broaden and deepen the scope of ecology through active engagement with the humanities and social sciences. Central to this approach is the recognition that the key factor determining the health of the Earth’s ecosystems is the behavior of human beings, and that many of the most crucial problems lie in the areas of human psychology and culture. This couse explores an integrative framework that brings together philosophical, scientific and practical perspectives in the study of human-environment relations.   

SeedlingSustainability Science Workshop

This participatory workshop aims to enlarge and deepen our understanding of human-environment relations through a systemic (holistic) framework that explicates an ecological worldview by revisioning philosophy, methodology and practice in terms of wholeness. The workshop seeks to create lasting relationships between human and natural communities on a strategic and personal level. If you think your community or organization could benefit from this workshop, please contact us (flyer).  


Biographical Information

1987 Ph.D. Watershed Hydrology and Management, University of Arizona
M.S. Water Resources Engineering, Federal University of Paraiba, Brazil
B.S. Agricultural Engineering, Federal University of Ceará, Brazil
Academic Positions
2006- Present


Professor of Environmental Studies, Department of Biology, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas

Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas

2002-04 Associate Professor of Watershed Management and Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, School of Natural Resources and Department of Agricultural Engineering, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
1995-02 Associate Professor of Watershed Management, School of Renewable Natural Resources, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
1995-96 Visiting Research Fellow, Department of Geography, University of Exeter, UK
1989-95 Assistant Professor of Watershed Management, School of Renewable Natural Resources, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
1988-89 Research hydrologist, US Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Southwest Watershed Research Center, Tucson, Arizona

Assistant/Associate Professor of Agricultural Engineering, Escola Superior de Agricultura de Mossoro, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil


Selected Publications

Author and co-author of over 100 articles published in refereed journals, book chapters and conference proceedings. A selection of recent publications follows:


Vogl, A. L. and Lopes, V. L. (2010). Evaluating Watershed Experiments through Recursive Residual Analysis. Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering, 136(5): 348-353

Moltz, H.L.N., Lopes, V. L., Rast, W. and Ventura, S. J. (2010). A Hydrologic-Economic Analysis of Best Management Practices for Sediment Control in the Santa Fe Watershed, New Mexico. Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, 15(4): 308-317

Mix, K., Rast, W. and Lopes, V. L. (2010). Increases in Growing Degree Days in the Alpine Desert of the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Journal of Water, Air & Soil Pollution, 205(1): 289-304

Vogl, A. L. and Lopes, V. L. (2009). Impacts of Water Resources Development on Flow Regimes in the Brazos River. Journal of Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 157:331-345

Lopes, V. L. and Luizzi, V. L. (2008). Participatory Sustainability: Building Sustainability for Complexity and Change. In: Osborne, R. and Kriese, P. (eds). Global Community, Global Security. Value Inquiry Book Series 198, Rodopi, pp. 217-227

Lopes, V. L. and Vogl, A. L. (2008). Integrating Modeling and Field Experiments to Evaluate Impacts of Vegetative Practices on Ponderosa Pine Watersheds. Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 44(5):1284-1294

Chaves, I. B., Lopes, V. L., Ffolliott, P. F. and Paes-Silva, A.P. (2008). Uma Classificacao Morpho-Estrutural para Descricao e Avaliacao da Biomassa da Vegetacao da Caatinga. Revista Caatinga, 21(2): 204-213

Lopes, V. L. (2007). Integration Science: Linking Social and Ecological Systems for Sustainability. ESA/SER Joint Meeting, San Jose, CA, August 5-10, 2007. (

Lopes, V. L., Osterkamp, W. R. and Bravo-Espinosa, M. and (2007). A Method for Improving Predictions of Bed-load Discharges to Reservoirs. Lakes & Reservoirs: Research and Management, 12:59-72



Towards a Relational Worldview


A Participatory Inquiry into the Nature of Reality

The metaphor of participation is at the core of an emerging relational (ecological) worldview that is replacing the mechanistic worldview of modernity.  At the center of this worldview is an understanding of our underlying nature and the organic wholeness of the cosmos that we inhabit and co-create. According to this worldview:

  • The world is a "nested" hierarchy of relationships expressing increasing holistic embrace and complexity.
  • Everything is intertwined, interdependent and in flux; nothing has a selfhood of its own (separate fixed essence).
  • The mind creatively participates in our interaction with the world which we can only know in terms of our constructs.
  • All theories (ways of seeing) are context-dependent (partial); no one understanding is complete.
  • Different kinds of knowledge – not scientific knowledge only – are needed to address human-environment concerns.
  • One cannot understand the property of any part without understanding how this part is related to the others and how the others influence it. Our encounter with the world is transactional, interactive; to touch, see or hear something or someone does not tell us either about our self all on its own, nor about a being out there all on its own.  It tells us about a being in a state of interrelation and co-presence with us.
  • At the heart of the relational worldview is an ethic of respect and care for the community of life in all its diversity. It recognizes our interdependence with the rest of life and affirms our shared moral responsibility to care for all life. Cooperation and adaptability, not competition, are the epitome of human survival.