Seminar: Tom Koontz

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Tom Koontz, University of Washington
Time of Event: 
Tuesday, October 17, 2017 - 11:00

National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)
1 Park Place, Suite 300
Annapolis, MD 21401


Collaboration and the science-policy nexus:  How local watershed partnerships use science

Seminar presented by Tom Koontz, Professor of Public Policy at the University of Washington.

Abstract: Across a range of substantive issue areas, policy makers and scholars have increasingly called for science to inform policy.  The science-policy interface becomes especially complex as collaborative approaches to problem solving include multiple interests and stakeholders working together across jurisdictions.  Many of these participants are non-scientists who bring local knowledge and experiences.  Unfortunately little is known about how science is accessed and used in collaborative governance.  To address this knowledge gap, this study examines the use of science across collaborative watershed partnerships in the Puget Sound basin of Washington state.  Part 1 examines partnership meeting minutes to identify how and how much science is deliberated, both in technical committees and executive committees.  It also examines the resulting watershed management plans for evidence of citations to scientific sources.  Part 2 draws on a survey of partnership members that asks respondents directly about their types of knowledge use, channels of communication, and relative importance of science in shaping plans. 

About:  Tom Koontz completed his graduate work at Indiana University, with an M.P.A. in Environment and Natural Resources, followed by a Ph.D. in Public Policy (advised by Elinor Ostrom).  His interdisciplinary graduate studies focused on environmental policy as it relates to human systems including institutions, stakeholder participation and community-based natural resource management, as well as natural systems such as forests, watersheds and the global climate. As a research assistant with the International Forestry Resources and Institutions program, he collaborated with international scholars examining the ecological and sociopolitical aspects of community-based natural resource management and coupled human and natural systems.

In 1998 he joined the faculty at Ohio State University in the interdisciplinary School of Environment and Natural Resources. Working with colleagues and students, he conducted research on collaborative environmental management, forest policy, and watershed management. As one of the few social scientists in an environmental science program, he enjoyed helping students to integrate across disciplines and see the critical role of social science in solving environmental challenges.

In 2011 Tom spent a half-year sabbatical at Leuphana University in Germany, where he taught and researched in the sustainability program. This provided an opportunity to compare collaboration and water policy between the European Union and the U.S. In 2014 he returned to his home state on faculty at the University of Washington Tacoma in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.  Here he has developed a new research program centering on the use of science in collaborative watershed efforts in the Puget Sound.

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The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, funded through an award to the University of Maryland from the National Science Foundation, is a research center dedicated to accelerating data-driven scientific discovery at the interface of human and ecological systems. Visit us online at and follow us on Twitter @SESYNC.

Event type: 
Event Attendance: 
Open to the Public
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