Immersion Distinguished Scholar Workshop: Policy Sciences and Geography

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Tom Koontz, University of Washington,
Abigail York, Arizona State University,
Rinku Roy Chowdhury, Clark University.
Time of Event: 
Monday, October 16, 2017 - 09:00 to Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 13:30

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

Immersion Distinguished Scholar Workshop on Policy Sciences and Geography.

The Immersion Program centers around a series of collaborative workshops led by Immersion Distinguished Scholars. These workshops are designed to immerse participants in theories and methods foundational to understanding current environmental challenges and their underlying socio-environmental systems. 

This is a closed workshop designed for SESYNC Postdoctoral Fellows.

Tom Koontz, University of Washington

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.

Policy Research in an Interdisciplinary World: Governments, Stakeholders, and Institutions

Abigail York, Arizona State University

Fascinated by the ways that people come together to collectively govern resources, York investigates how, when, why, and who is able to manage neighborhoods, cities, forests, water resources, biodiversity hotpots, and agricultural lands sustainably. By focusing on diverse research sites in the present, historic, and ancient contexts within the USA and around the world, she is able to better understand generalizable principles for governance. Funded by National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, York has examined urbanization in the southwest USA, collaborative environmental governance, land use policy adoption, community forestry in Nepal, premodern cities’ public service provisioning throughout the world, land use and environmental injustice in Phoenix, water policy and agricultural livelihoods and transitions in Arizona, and the ability of communities to leverage fracking revenue for more sustainable futures in Appalachia. York deploys diverse methods including econometrics, social network analysis, spatial analysis, surveys, content analysis, and fieldwork; results from this work are integrated into decision-making models, agent-based models, and scenarios.

Towards an understanding of institutional dynamics in socio-ecological systems

Rinku Roy Chowdhury, Clark University

Rinku Roy Chowdhury completed her bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Environmental Science at Wellesley College, a master's degree in Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development at the University of Georgia, and a Ph.D. in Geography at Clark University. Before returning to Clark in 2015, she taught geography at Indiana University at Bloomington and co-directed the Anthropological Center for Training and Research on Global Environmental Change (ACT). Prior to that she was a faculty member in the University of Miami’s Department of Geography and International Studies and the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy.

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: 
Immersion Workshop
Event Attendance: 
Private Working Group
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