New Postdoc position for Environmental Collaboration & Conflict Resolution (ECCR)

08/07/20 06:15:pm

Reassessing and re-envisioning stakeholder engagement and inclusivity in environmental collaboration and conflict resolution

A joint post-doctoral position

The University of Arizona
Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy

Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation
John S. McCain III National Center for Environmental Conflict Resolution


Inclusiveness and accessibility are cornerstone principles for environmental collaboration and conflict resolution (ECCR) processes, science-policy dialogues, and other forms of stakeholder engagement that are traditionally based on trust-building and mutual exploration of decision-making alternatives. Adherence to these principles supports effective collaboration and conflict resolution processes, helping ensure diverse and divergent voices a seat at the table, with the goals of robust and implementable outcomes, improved data and information in the decision-making process, reduced likelihood of future challenges, and a more just, democratic process.

Recent events, including the Covid-19 pandemic and social, economic, and political polarization and disruptions, require a rapid pivot to new approaches, policies, and attitudes related to coordination and communication among very diverse and divided constituencies. This shift further entails an expanding use of virtual technologies while at the same time directly and more effectively addressing questions and challenges to engagement and inclusivity have also arisen. For example:

  • How can ECCR processes better incorporate the range of voices that need to be at the decision-making table, including those that have traditionally lacked access?
  • How can the meaningful engagement of stakeholders and the public, including traditionally under-served communities, be accomplished effectively through virtual technologies and other evolving forms of engagement?
  • How can meaningful engagement and dialogue among diverse stakeholders be supported in an increasingly politicized and partisan environment?
  • How are Federal environmental policies, practices, and decision-making processes adapting to these societal changes and how is that impacting engagement and inclusion of diverse communities?

When approached proactively and strategically, evolving modes of engagement, such as increased virtual interactions, can offer considerable opportunities to enhance collaborative solutions, policy impact, and societal and environmental outcomes while also increasing efficiency and group productivity and overcoming geographical differences. However, when adopted simply reactively or applied without consideration of existing inequities, these same options can degrade communication, stifle dialogue, limit inclusivity of certain populations and stakeholders, minimize meaningful engagement, and exacerbate conflict. If such modes are not carefully studied and mindfully applied, they can lead to unintended, potentially harmful consequences.

It is equally important to consider other aspects of ECCR processes that contribute to equitable participation, such as funding, geography, process rules, existing decision-making structures, and relationships among the participants. Taken together, choices about evolving modes of engagement and traditional approaches to developing an ECCR process can have a powerful influence on how inclusive, just, and democratic a decision-making process will be.

Position Overview

The Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy of the University of Arizona and the John McCain III National Center for Environmental Conflict Resolution, a program of the Morris K. and Stewart L. Udall Foundation (Udall Foundation), seek to appoint a post-doctoral researcher/ practitioner at 1.0 FTE for 12 months to conduct applied research on the topic of ECCR. Such research should specifically examine the role of engagement and inclusivity within ECCR processes that involve, impact, or inform Federal agencies and issues.

Areas of focus for the research/practitioner must include a link to processes and policies impacting (or involving) Federal agencies or Federally recognized Tribes. Such areas of focus may include but are not limited to:

  • Federal environmental processes (e.g., National Environmental Policy Act; Endangered Species Act Section 6; National Historical Preservation Act Section 106) that have undergone policy or on-the-ground changes to stakeholder engagement practices due to pandemic response and/or calls for greater accountability;
  • Federal environmental processes and policies that intersect with state, local, and/or nongovernmental organizations;
  • Federal environmental processes that provide opportunities for meaningful engagement, and result in decisions and outcomes that impact diverse stakeholders;
  • ECCR processes that intersect with Native Nations and Tribal governments.
  • Emerging and evolving collaboration and conflict resolution approaches that have been developed or influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic and social, economic, and political polarization and disruptions.

Duties and Responsibilities

Appropriate methodological approaches may include but are not limited to:

  • Assessments and assessment protocols designed to collect data, evaluate attitudes and perspectives, explore emerging and evolving collaboration and communications approaches, and/or link to ongoing initiatives;
  • Reviews of emerging technologies, policies, and engagement approaches, with a focus on immediate and future impacts to engagement and obstacles for inclusion of diverse stakeholder groups including marginalized communities;
  • Evaluations of impacts, outcomes, attitudes, and trends related to ECCR processes, including systemic approaches to engaging impacted stakeholders and communities;
  • Research developed in cooperation with others, such as ECCR practitioners, Native Nations, community members, and stakeholders.

The researcher/practitioner will collaborate with scientists and professionals at both the Udall Center and Udall Foundation. Outputs from the appointment will include:

  • One or more peer-reviewed publications in the fields of alternative dispute resolution, environmental policy, collaborative governance, applied science, or related;
  • One or more policy white papers outlining the research findings for Federal officials, conflict resolution practitioners, and industry personnel;
  • Participation in a Fall 2021 symposium on contemporary environmental issues co-convened by the Udall Center and Udall Foundation, and potentially in other relevant Federal or environmental conflict resolution forums.
  • One or more proposals for extramural funding to continue and expand the line of research.


Doctoral degree or equivalent in conflict resolution, sociology, anthropology, geography, environmental policy, planning, or a related field.

Practitioner experience or demonstrated interest and study in the ECCR field.

Experience working with traditionally marginalized communities (preferred).

Appointment Information

The appointee should be available to begin work in January 2021. The initial appointment will be for 12 months; an extension may be possible subject to availability of funding. Starting salary for the position is $53,000 annually at 1.0 full-time equivalency (FTE), depending on experience. Relocation benefits are not included.

The appointee will be a full-time exempt, benefits-eligible employee of the University of Arizona, but may conduct the work remotely with approval of Udall Center and Udall Foundation leadership. Primary supervision of the research will be provided by faculty of the Udall Center, with collaborative, secondary supervision conducted by senior program staff of the Udall Foundation. See for more information about benefits at the University of Arizona.

At the University of Arizona, we value our inclusive climate because we know that diversity in experiences and perspectives is vital to advancing innovation, critical thinking, solving complex problems, and creating an inclusive academic community. As a Hispanic-serving institution, we translate these values into action by seeking individuals who have experience and expertise working with diverse students, colleagues, and constituencies. Because we seek a workforce with a wide range of perspectives and experiences, we provide equal employment opportunities to applicants and employees without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or genetic information. As an Employer of National Service, we also welcome alumni of AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and other national service programs and others who will help us advance our Inclusive Excellence initiative aimed at creating a university that values student, staff and faculty engagement in addressing issues of diversity and inclusiveness.

Interested applicants should apply at no later than September 15, 2020 to ensure full consideration. Please include:

  • Letter of interest summarizing interest and qualifications
  • Brief (up to two pages) overview or outline of the proposed research topic and intended outcomes
  • Curriculum vitae or resumé
  • Contact information for three professional references

Any questions regarding the position should be directed to Professor Andrea Gerlak at

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