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The Resilience and Adaptation Program In the Community


The students in the Resilience and Adaptation Program (RAP) divide their time among the required classes, research, international internships. Yet they still have time to engage in outreach activities that are not required by their degree program, but are vital to the work they do and the philosophy of the IGERT program. The RAP faculty acknowledged, in our most recent meeting, that political and practical implementation of the research results that our trainees produce is essential to our mission as an IGERT program. We encourage, but do not require that our trainees engage in outreach activities and it is a measure of their understanding of the principals of IGERT and RAP, and their belief in the value of their studies, that so many of them take the time to bring the results of their work outside the University to the varied audiences that will benefit from their research.

Part of our mission is to prepare scholars, policy-makers, community leaders, and managers to address issues of sustainability in an integrated fashion. RAP’s outreach program thrusts our trainees into all the practical and political situations that policy implementation entails. Not only does this experience begin to effect change in the community within which they have chosen to work, but it gives them the practical experiences important in their training as future sustainability scientists. Acknowledging that outreach is an important component of Rap research, our faculty members have started to explore ways to teach
“implementation” as part of their curriculum.

The outreach activities conducted by the students in the Resilience and Adaptation Program during fall into 3 broad categories; serving RAP; educating the community; facilitating change. Our trainees have diligently applied themselves to improving our program for incoming cohorts by organizing retreats, giving lectures and teaching workshops, mentoring others in the program and evaluating faculty performance to improve delivery. In the interest of a sustainable program, our students have invested time and energy into our improvement: for example, in 2009 a group of students under the guidance of a RAP faculty member is designing a methods course to meet some of their needs. In addition, acting as a community, rather than a department or simply a group of researchers, RAP trainees have organized workshops that allow them to share an area of expertise with their fellow students; actively worked to recruit new RAP trainees and been active in promoting our activities to the rest of UAF.

Understanding that education is the means for a sustainable future, our trainees have worked with local secondary and elementary school students and teachers giving lectures, running workshops and advising in science fairs, and using their areas of expertise to help this section of the community. Their example is one of the best recruiting tools we have.

A number of our trainees have become members of local, statewide and national community boards to use their research to help facilitate change on an organizational level. We have members on the National institutes of Health Board, Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union, Parks and Recreation Commission in Anchorage, AK, Arbor Day Committee in Fairbanks, AK. Suggestions by students in one of our classes have even led to students requesting that the university collect a fee of $20.00 from each student to demonstrate student commitment to campus sustainability efforts such as recycling.

The scope of engagement illustrates independent and personal nature of the outreach engaged in by our trainees and is a strong and vital part of our program.

Address Goals

Our trainees have collaborated with communities, organization, schools and individuals again and again in discussions relevant to issues of change and sustainability in areas of their research. They have used the opportunities afforded by their field work to train, educate, and engage leaders and workers in all areas of Alaskan society so that their work does not stand alone, but will continue to expand and grow through the work of others.