I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate in the 2nd International Congress Water for the Future that was held in Mendoza, Argentina, on March 7-9, 2019 – my second visit to the city. It was great to be in Mendoza again and visit our Argentinean colleagues from the National Scientific and Technical Research Council, or CONICET.
In winter 2018, the Earth System Governance network released their new ESG Science and Implementation Plan setting out the agenda for the next decade of earth system governance research. The Earth System Governance network is a core project of the International Council for Science (ICS/ICSU) under the Future Earth initiative and emerged from 20-year research alliance focused on the social and policy dimensions of global change. Dr. Andrea Gerlak, an Associate Professor in the University of Arizona’s School of Geography and Development and Associate Research Professor with the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, served as a Lead Author on the new science plan. In doing so, she joins a group of international scientists building a global interdisciplinary research network exploring the governance structures for tackling the pressing, multi-scalar environmental challenges of our time.
Key to making science actionable is effectively communicating with decision-makers and the public. Tamee Albrecht (Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy & UA School of Geography and Development) and co-author Amy Hudson (Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research & UA School of Natural Resources and Environment) wrote a reflection on what they learned about science communication from a week-long workshop: ‘Expert Witness Training Academy—Effectively Communicating Science’. Hosted by the Mitchell Hamline School of Law and funded by the National Science Foundation’s Paleoclimate Program, the program trains scientists how to be an effective expert witness—and expert communicator—in the courtroom. They describe the challenges of conveying scientific results to a jury and they identify ways that scientists can be more convincing when speaking to a lay audience. The article, published in the American Geophysical Union’s Eos magazine online, offers a unique—and humorous—perspective on science communication.
Dr. Christopher Scott, director of the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, is a coordinating lead author of a chapter on Water in the Hindu Kush Himalaya recently published in The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment: Mountains, Climate Change, Sustainability and People. Udall Center Graduate Research Associate Tamee Albrecht is also a contributing author.
The Transboundary Impact Assessment Project for Sanitation Infrastructure in Ambos Nogales (Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora), funded by the North American Development Bank, is being carried out by a binational research team composed of seven researchers and two academic technicians from three high-level academic institutions (El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, El Colegio de Chihuahua and the University of Arizona), located in the border region of Mexico and the United States.
On November 17, 2018, Udall Center researchers, Andrea Gerlak and Adriana Zuniga, in collaboration with their partners Joaquin Murrieta from Watershed Management Group and Claudio Rodriguez and Nelda Ruiz from Tierra y Libertad Organization, led a team of volunteers in the implementation of green infrastructure at Star Academic High School. More than 80 volunteers that included high school students and teachers, Joint Technological Education District students and instructors, and University of Arizona students worked together to dig basins, plant trees, build benches, and beautify the school front and back yards. The aim of this project is to help the school reduce heat and flooding and serve as a demonstration project for the community. It also aims to bring communities together to enhance resilience and address social injustice.
Tucson Verde Para Todos, spearheaded by Andrea Gerlak and her research partner Adriana Zuniga at the University of Arizona was featured in High Country News. The group won a grant from the university and partnered with Tierra y Libertad and other local nonprofits including the Watershed Management Group, who designed the basin, to create the project.
The Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and El Colegio de Sonora hosted the workshop, “Binational Water Relations at 75 Years,” held October 15-16, 2018 at the University of Arizona. In attendance were the U.S. and Mexican commissioners of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), referred to as the Comisión Internacional de Límites y Aguas (CILA) in Spanish; Prof. Stephen Mumme (who presented the keynote address); Ambassador Alberto Székely; the Mexican Consul in Tucson; as well as University of Arizona leadership, researchers, students, governmental and civil-society participants from both sides of the border.
Four University of Arizona faculty were welcomed as Udall Center Fellows at a reception on September 17th attended by faculty colleagues, University leadership, and Udall Center staff. The Fellows program — the longest standing such program at the University — selects only a handful of University of Arizona faculty each year, ranging from many different disciplines around campus. During this time, the Fellows will be conducting research on various topics including co-production of environmental knowledge in Guatemala, using novel social scientific methods to address health disparities, developing a model of diet-sensitive disease prevention for food insecure populations, and authoritarianism, populism, and the partisan policy divide. The Udall Center Fellows program also offers a semester off from normal teaching, thus allowing for creative scholarship and pursuit of funds.
Conflicts around energy development are becoming common place across the United States, especially in wake of hydraulic fracking. Dr. Andrea K. Gerlak (School of Geography and Development and Udall Center, University of Arizona) recently collaborated with colleagues Tanya Heikkila and Chris Weible, of the University of Colorado-Denver School of Public Affairs, in presenting research on the role of science and learning to change policy positions and ultimately, resolve conflict.