Our IGERT program in Adaptive Management links four colleges, fifteen academic departments, and three research centers at the University of Florida with international wetlands research centers in Africa, Mexico, South America, Australia, and south Florida. It focuses on the theme of wise use of water, wetlands, and watersheds. At the heart of the research theme, and a key educational feature of our program, is the innovative practice of Adaptive Management. Adaptive Management is a systematic process for continually improving management policies and practices by learning from the outcomes of operational programs. Adaptive Management is a most essential study area for future scientists, engineers and policy makers who will be working with coupled human and natural systems.
The education component of our IGERT stresses basic science in each student's discipline, coupled with training in systems, law, policy, ethics, and communication. The graduate students in our program research and explore Adaptive Management and the science, engineering, and policy frameworks that drive it. Furthermore they experience Adaptive Management first hand, as they navigate the learning environment, self-evaluate direction and outcomes, and possibly change their own research focus during their graduate studies. The Adaptive Management IGERT faculty are working in a dynamic interdisciplinary atmosphere, develop training opportunities and an educational pedagogy aimed at producing graduates with interdisciplinary and adaptive management skills, and participating in their own development vis-a-vis graduate education and research from an integrative perspective.
Our IGERT program provides greater understanding and a framework for addressing the issues of coupled human and natural systems (water, watersheds, and wetlands) and the interplay of policy and science required to manage them. The program builds a firm disciplinary base (each student's major), overlays coursework in complementary disciplines (social science for engineers and biophysical scholars, and biophysical science for social science students), and incorporates interdisciplinary training and research experiences. The program's interdisciplinary structure is creating novel links across engineering and the biophysical and social sciences.
The primary outcomes of our IGERT in Adaptive Management program will be the education and training of scientists and engineers who can adaptively manage coupled human and natural systems, and the institutionalization of a dynamic, integrative learning environment. Both outcomes will be accomplished by developing faculty and administrators who are committed to the concept of team teaching and research and who are not intimidated by the prospect of graduate education as an adaptive endeavor. Other features of the program are the inclusion of under-represented groups, internationalization of student perspectives, blending of disciplines in doctoral training, and dissemination of the results of this endeavor within and outside traditional academic circles.
Adaptive Management: Wise Use of Water, Wetlands & Watersheds
is an NSF-funded IGERT program at the University of Florida