Water is the life blood of the North American West. We depend on it to produce our food, to power and supply our homes, to fuel our industries, and to sustain the wildlife and natural ecosystems that we cherish. Yet this vital resource is facing increasing threats from climate change impacts, population growth, and various contaminants. Northern Rockies and Plains States are already seeing increased early spring flooding and late summer drought and it is vital that we prepare our communities to be resilient against these changes.
These threats are complex and interactive. Solutions will require integrating knowledge from a variety of physical and natural sciences (e.g., hydrology, ecology, agriculture, forestry, chemistry, environmental science, biology and health), with traditional ecological knowledge and knowledge of the social, historical, cultural, political, and economic variables that compound the challenges we face, along with the development of technological innovations (e.g., from optics, materials science, artificial intelligence, environmental, chemical, and biological engineering). Moreover, ensuring that the research translates into genuine social benefits requires collaboration with communities, tribes, government agencies, non-profit, health, business and industry organizations, policymakers and activists.
In other words, real solutions will require what the National Science Foundation has referred to as convergent research or collaborative transdisciplinary research for social benefit.
- What exactly is convergent research and how is it best achieved?
- What are the challenges of doing such collaborative work and how are they overcome?
- What would convergent research for protecting our water systems (lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and snowpack) look like?
These are the central questions of this two-and-a-half-day workshop.
To learn more and apply visit http://www.montana.edu/stes/regional-workshop.html.