Paul Case, Summer 2015

The first half of the 2015 summer I was focused on research for, and the development of the final round of UMass Boston’s application for the Global Resilience Partnership. Along with the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network, Ecoagriculture Partners, and numerous local partners – including local universities and NGOs – we have proposed an innovative development project focused on land use and food security in Laikipia Kenya, the Central Rift Valley in Ethiopia, and semi-urban areas of Djibiouti. The project is slated to incorporate academically stringent data collection as part of its monitoring and evaluation. UMass Boston will be able to help design and specify this data collection, and students will be able to utilize it in their research. A brief summary of our project, along with a link to our problem statement, is included on the Global Resilience Partnership website here.

In terms of research for the Global Resilience Project, this summer I acted as a participant-observer in workshops run by our partners in both Djibouti and Ethiopia. These workshops were funded by the competition to better generate a final grant proposal. Alex Metzger, an IGERT fellow and PhD student in the School for the Environment, operated in a similar function in Kenya. While significantly informing our proposal development in a practical sense, the data collected in these workshops is valuable for my own work – providing insights into issues arising within diverse multistakeholder collaborations. The landscapes also provide interesting contrasts in that the populations we are working with in Kenya and Ethiopia are largely professionalized and the workshops comprised representatives from existing networks of organizations (including NGOs, businesses, etc.), whereas in Djibouti the network from which we drew was largely a social one – mostly members of the same community who had an interest in the potential project.

Work in Djibouti and Ethiopia also has opened the door to other experiences. Most notably, this summer I ended up beach camping in Djibouti with members of the small local fisher community along the Somali border. This was an excellent experience on a personal level, as well as a good opportunity to generate contacts and potential avenues for future research.

After helping to finalize the grant proposal for the GRP, I have mostly been working on a project looking at how combinations of climate change issues may surprise corporations in the future, and stated corporate interaction with and interpretation of these issues. Synthesizing information on climate change trends highlighted in the IPCC’s AR5, along with data collected from publically available corporate documents (mostly SEC Filings, corporate websites, and Carbon Disclosure Project documents), this project uses fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis to identify potential combinations of climate change issues that may surprise companies, and considers corporate recognition and prioritization of, and mobilization against the climate change trends we consider. This project stems from paper I am coauthoring with my advisor, Nardia Haigh – which we presented last spring to our research group, and which she presented at conference in Vancouver and Greece this summer.

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