The School of Global Environmental Sustainability at Colorado State University has named six diverse 2013-2014 Global Challenges Research Teams and four Resident Faculty Fellows from a competitive field of proposals submitted in January. The awards are a way to encourage interdisciplinary understanding of complex global environmental issues, foster collaborative partnerships on campus, and support sustainability research at CSU.
The School of Global Environmental Sustainability, known as SoGES, funds research projects that are interdisciplinary in nature, involving faculty members and researchers from across colleges. Selected projects targeted the SoGES Focal Areas – Biodiversity, Conservation, and Management -and their intersection with one or more of the other five SoGES Focal Areas.
“SoGES is very excited about the diverse research ideas that we will be supporting next year with GCRT and Fellow seed funding,” said Gene Kelly, SoGES associate director for Research and Development. “We chose Research Teams and Fellows that are addressing critical sustainability topics – through divergent disciplines – that will help create dynamic forums for collaborative problem solving and innovation on campus.”
The 2013-2014 Global Challenges Research Teams:
Conservation Development: Evaluating an Emerging Approach for Sustaining Biodiversity and Human Communities in Rapidly Changing Landscapes
o Principal Investigators: Liba Pejchar, Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology; and Sarah Reed, Smith Conservation Research Fellow in the Warner College of Natural Resources.
o This GCRT’s mission is to synthesize data on the practice of conservation development, to evaluate the outcomes, and to engage with practitioners to inform the design of future development and land conservation. They define conservation development as an approach to the design, construction and stewardship of a development that achieves functional protection of natural resources while also providing social and economic benefits to human communities. The GCRT is composed of 30 collaborators from four universities, five government agencies and conservation organizations, and 12 departments and five colleges at CSU. The ecologists, geographers, sociologists, planners, and experts in conservation finance, real estate, and landscape design on the team give them the breadth of expertise necessary to advance the frontier of conservation development.
Urban Lab & LENSES
o Principal Investigators: Brian Dunbar, Institute for the Built Environment; and Jane Choi, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.
o This GCRT will create a collaborative Urban Lab to enhance the sustainability and biodiversity of the urban areas between campus and Old Town Fort Collins using the LENSES regenerative framework.
A Headwaters Initiative to Balance Biodiversity and Water Security in Critical Watersheds
o Principal Investigators: Melinda Laituri, Ecosystem Science and Sustainability and Warner College of Natural Resources; Neil Grigg, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; and Reagan Waskom, CSU Water Center.
o This GCRT will target critical headwater regions of the world, which pose major 21st century sustainability issues where the intersection of humanity and biodiversity is confronted by rapidly changing environmental and climatic conditions. A scoping exercise will be undertaken to identify signature headwater regions and the challenges associated with these areas as critical sources of water. We will develop a demonstration project focusing on the Cache la Poudre headwater region building on many existing efforts to assess and protect this important local resource. Integral to this will be bringing together stakeholders and focus groups to discuss mechanisms for adaptation to changing climatic conditions.
Increase Demand for Non-traditional Building Material for Affordable Housing & Sustainable Housing by Identifying Cultural Barriers
o Principal Investigators: Scott A. Glick, Caroline Clevenger and Ron Holt, Department of Construction Management; Sybil Sharvelle, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Janet Ore, Department of History; and Ken Tremblay, Department of Design and Merchandising.
o This GCRT will identify ways to expand the use of non-traditional building materials into highly efficient homes in an effort to reduce the demand for the virgin natural resources typically used in construction. This group will look at the role culture may play in material selection and use from a Native American perspective.
Using Case Studies to Promote Biodiversity, Conservation and Management within Sustainable Communities: Best Case Thinking for Curriculum Infusion
o Principal Investigators: William Timpson, School of Education; Nathelie Kees, School of Education; and Terry Engle, Department of Animal Sciences.
o This GCRT will draw on expertise from several disciplines to identify, author, field test, refine, and make available for curriculum incorporation a new series of case studies focused on biodiversity, conservation, and management within sustainable communities. Case studies will focus on areas including the connections between cattle and sustainable communities, sustainability issues with STEM education, conservation biology, protected lands management and sustainable communities, and others. These case studies will offer educators and community leaders a useful framework for engaging audiences of all ages and backgrounds in active and interactive explorations of complex content with the intent to promote deeper understanding.
Sustainable African Ecosystems and Societies under Global Change
o Principal Investigators: Kathy Galvin, Department of Anthropology; Robin S. Reid, Paul H. Evangelista and Stacy Lynn, Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory; Sue VandeWoude, Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Pathology; and Jessica Davis, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences.
o This GCRT will bring a team of university faculty and researchers together to explore research and education opportunities on the complex issues of biodiversity, ecosystems, wildlife, livestock and human health and well-being in Africa. To do this the team will address the state of knowledge, explore avenues of research in meetings, through manuscripts, hold a major workshop, invite speakers to campus and develop a center to facilitate this cross-college initiative.
“Our collaborative group, which includes City of Fort Collins natural resources and planning staffs, local design professionals, and students and faculty from many CSU departments, will be able to engage in a unique set of projects, thanks to the SoGES grant,” said Dunbar, PI of Urban Lab and LENSES. “We will establish an ‘Urban Studio,’ applying our LENSES (Living Environments) framework to buildings and exterior spaces in the Mason Corridor.”
SoGES GCRT support also acts a driver for new interdisciplinary partnerships and ideas for funded teams.
“I am really excited about the GCRT team and the support we will receive from SoGES,” said Laituri, PI of the Headwaters Initiative to balance Biodiversity and Water Security in Critical Watershed. “I think our project is both timely and important as it addresses key issues with respect to water as a critical resource with a specific focus in our own backyard — the Cache la Poudre watershed.”
Four Resident Fellows also will receive support from SoGES to advance studies in global environmental sustainability:
Delwin E. Benson, Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology. Research focus – global sustainability for nature conservation to include private and communal lands, their managers, and the agencies, organizations, and governments that affect them.
Joshua Goldstein, Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources. Research focus –investigating the “business case” for how corporations’ bottom line relates to biodiversity and ecosystem services (the benefits people obtain from nature).
Stephan Kroll, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Research focus – public acceptability of efficient policies (green taxes, cap-and-trade, congestion pricing, and other policies recommended by economists) to tackle environmental problems.
Kyle Saunders, Department of Political Science. Research focus – the influence of institutional, social, and political characteristics that explain and predict urban sustainability practices and urban sustainability challenges and other pre-cursors to policy.
“It is quite an honor to be recognized as a Resident Faculty Fellow by CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability. SoGES is a wonderfully innovative and visible initiative on such important and timely topics – with engaged, creative and hard working people that I have a lot of respect and admiration for,” said Saunders, a 2013-2014 SoGES Resident Faculty Fellow. “I look forward to both contributing to, and learning from, SoGES’ many efforts next year; I am sure my research will be much better off for the experience.”
About the School of Global Environmental Sustainability
The School of Global Environmental Sustainability is an umbrella organization that encompasses all environmental education and research at Colorado State University. The school positions CSU to address the multiple economic, environmental and societal challenges of global sustainability through broad-based research, curricular, and outreach initiatives. The school’s areas of emphasis include food security, environmental institutions and governance, sustainable communities, land and water resources, biodiversity, conservation and management, climate change, and energy. This approach capitalizes on the University’s historic strength in environmental research and education, and builds upon the education and research that already exists within all eight colleges on campus – from the Warner College of Natural Resources to the College of Business. For more information, go to http://sustainability.colostate.edu.