Partners in Local Resilience

September 2016

Identifying mutually beneficial objectives for researchers and practitioners engaged in climate adaptation efforts can often be a challenge. Differences can occur in terms of motivations, objectives, scale, and decision-making authority.

Drawing on the experience of researchers and practitioners involved in a climate adaptation project focused on cities in the Great Lakes region, this paper provides an overview of the relationship between the University of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute and the City of Ann Arbor, Michigan (publishied in the 2016 Issue of the Michigan Journal of Sustainability).

Identifying mutually beneficial objectives for researchers and practitioners engaged in climate adaptation efforts can often be a challenge. Differences can occur in terms of motivations, objectives, scale, and decision-making authority.

Drawing on the experience of researchers and practitioners involved in a climate adaptation project focused on cities in the Great Lakes region, this paper provides an overview of the relationship between the University of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute and the City of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Utilizing a thick description for reviewing participant experience, this paper offers analysis of the effectiveness of two approaches to translational research: the boundary chain model and integrated assessment model. The paper also discusses the application of these translational research approaches and an iterative engagement process for enhancing the city’s climate resiliency while strengthening the university’s research and outreach efforts.

The deployment of these translational research models, coupled with numerous points of engagement between key university and city actors, has helped both entities emerge as national leaders in sustainability. Transferable lessons discussed include taking time to build trust among participants, the importance of proximity for being responsive, and utilizing organizational structures for supporting collaboration.

Keywords: Climate adaptation, Ann Arbor, MI, Translational Research, Integrated Assessment, Michigan Journal of Sustainability, Graham Sustainability Institute