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May 2020

EarthLab Lunch & Learn

From Knowledge to Understanding: Lessons Learned from Integrating Research and Stakeholder Engagement in a Water & Agriculture Project

May 12, 2020 | 12:30 – 2:00 PM | Online 

Panelists include:

Kathryn Brasier, Penn State University
Barbara Quimby, Arizona State University
Mark Burbach, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Jon Laughner, Penn State University
Walt Whitmer, Penn State University
Weston Eaton, Penn State University
Clinton Williams, USDA Agricultural Research Service

The Water for Agriculture (W4Ag) is a 4-year, multidisciplinary USDA funded project that studies stakeholder engagement as a means to address complex water problems in agricultural working landscapes. To do this, team members are facilitating, studying and supporting stakeholder working groups in 5 projects sites across diverse water contexts in Arizona, Nebraska and Pennsylvania. In this panel discussion, project personnel will share insights into several challenges and adaptations related to undertaking multidisciplinary work in partnership with community members.

The discussion will highlight experiences from the perspectives of both junior and established scholars and practitioners on the project. After a brief overview of the project goals and description of activities and focus in each project site, panelists will reflect on several themes. These include:

  • the practical challenges of bringing together new groups of diverse stakeholders to participate in the project;
  • lessons learned through the attempt to hold the engagement process constant across diverse project sites while allowing variation in content and topical focus; and
  • navigating the ‘tug’ between theory and practice of engagement.

Panelists will also shed light on their experience with professional and personal aspects of community-grounded research through discussing:

  • the reality of mingling one’s personal life with a scientific research agenda in working with local community partners on public issues; and
  • the professional implications of stepping outside of typical scientific approaches and reorienting one’s work toward supporting community-driven efforts.

Panelists will then invite session attendees to share in a broader discussion of collaborative approaches to research on complex natural resource problems—what does it take to successfully navigate disparate disciplinary cultures in pursuit of both practical and scholarly goals? Where was growth, learning, or some sort of change needed to keep the project moving—did it happen and to what end? What worked well, and less so?

The goal of the panel session then is to identify, share, and foster dialogue that can form the basis for a more robust framework for undertaking research on water in agricultural landscapes in collaborative fashion, that is grounded in the experiences of stakeholders whose lives are directly tied to the issues we study.


Thank You to Our Co-Sponsors



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