Johannes Castner is currently a third year PhD student in Sustainable Development at Columbia University and for the academic year 2011-2012 he is an exchange scholar at Harvard University. Mr. Castner's research is concerned with the evolution of social, political and economic life, as well as environmental factors, in Zambia and how that evolution is affected by an increased foreign presence, primarily Chinese and Indian (through foreign aid, foreign direct investment and immigration). In particular, Mr. Castner is interested in the question of how new (perhaps mostly weak) ties between Zambian companies and Chinese investors and collaborators, influence people's career opportunities and actual career outcomes, as well as how the increased Chinese presence changes how the various Zambian ethnic, cultural and faith groups relate with each other. Mr. Castner is a member of the Sustainable Human Development group, the Religion and Development group, and the Graduate Student Network of the Human Development and Capability Association.
Before beginning his PhD work at Columbia, Mr. Castner was a research assistant to the Macro-Economist, Christopher Foote, at the Boston Federal Reserve Bank. Mr. Castner holds a BA in Economics and Cultural Anthropology from Columbia University where he also worked as a research assistant to the Environmental Economist Alexander Pfaff on a project that focused on the economic effects, via health, of indoor air pollution in a small farming community in Kenya.