The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) program and Land Grant and Sea Grant incarnations of university extension systems represent two boundary organizations with unique, but complementary, structures and a capacity for connecting and mediating the boundary between climate information producers and users.

The RISA program began in the 1990s to improve the link between climate science and society by supporting university consortia that could be responsive to regional stakeholder needs. Today, the RISA program funds 11 projects throughout the United States. The mission of connecting science to society is also embodied in the Cooperative Extension System established at Land Grant Universities across the United States over a century ago to produce usable science to support agricultural and resource management activities. Since then, Extension has pioneered and developed a rich history of bridging the gap between research from universities and the needs of practitioners such as agricultural producers, forest landowners, and resource managers. The success of this institutional approach led to the creation of Sea Grant colleges and extension professionals focused initially on supporting fisheries management with cutting edge science. This mission has grown to cover additional areas of need including coastal hazards planning and climate change adaptation. The similar missions of Extension and RISAs—and opportunities for their collaboration—h​ave not been overlooked. To date, four RISAs have Extension personnel on their program staff. These connections to support both Extension and RISA functions, and provide a basis for describing how RISA-Extension collaborations have built KANs in many cases to inform the use of science in climate adaptation.

Using these collaborations ​as the basis of case studies, this chapter reviews the relationship between these institutions and how it has supported four critical functions found in boundary organization literature: communication—c​onnecting with diverse audiences; translation—tra​nslating between science producers and consumers; mediation—negot​iating between science producers and consumers; and convening—bring​ing together different parties. The chapter closes with a discussion about what has worked well in the RISA-Extension partnership and how the partnership has helped build KANs, and also highlights opportunities for expanding this work.

Authors: Stevenson, J., M. Crimmins, J. Whitehead, C. Fraisse, J. Brugger

Stevenson, John et al.
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22 pages
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8.5" by 11", standard