Debra Butler, Summer 2015 Report

July 2015

 This summer, I am working on a research project at Massport, which is a large and complex air, ground and maritime system. The Port Authority of Massachusetts manages Logan International, Hanscom and Worcester Airports, Conley Terminal, the Cruise Port and Port of Boston. The facility owns waterfront property throughout Boston and manages/leases approximately 585 acres of maritime, industrial, and commercial waterfront property in the municipalities of South Boston, East Boston and Charlestown, including East Boston Piers Park, the East Boston Shipyard, and Piers 1-5. Massport also holds 285 acres of land in South Boston (Boston Fish Pier, the Seaport Boston World Trade Center, Conley Container Terminal, several marine terminals, as well as industrial facilities at Boston Autoport, Mystic Pier 48, and the Medford Street Terminal. Massport’s waterfront locations are extremely vulnerability to sea level rise and catastrophic weather events due to climate change.

Debra Butler Summer 2015 Massport
Debra Butler Summer 2015 Massport

The division of Capital Programs and Environmental Affairs has the primary responsibility of building resilience capacity at all Massport facilities through combined strategies of decisive convening, robust research, capital improvements and planning, education, and operational preparedness. It’s directive is to position the agency within a network that interacts with numerous local, regional and international sectors, professional disciplines and operational systems.

My research interest is the dynamics of internal resilience discourse and communication within the division, with other Massport departments and with its external partners. One goal of the study is to frame the “logic” of resilience discourse as a strategy and map how it is operationalized within the organization as system.

The IGERT program at UMass Boston is focused on the coasts and communities, in particular, those of the greater Boston area. UMass Boston IGERT has an opportunity to not only fulfill its goal of trans-disciplinary, collaborative and public research but act as a valuable partner and resource with Massport’s efforts in developing structural and operational models which are resilient to impacts of climate change.

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