Evaluating socially engaged climate research: Scientists’ visions of a climate resilient US Southwest
|Title||Evaluating socially engaged climate research: Scientists’ visions of a climate resilient US Southwest|
|Year of Publication||2021|
Socially engaged science and collaborative research practices offer promising ways to address complex environmental and societal problems like climate variability and climate change. However, it is unclear if and how these types of collaborative knowledge production result in tangible impacts. Drawing from a 6-year evaluation, this article investigates the outcomes and contributions of ten collaborative research projects supported by a federally funded climate research program in the US Southwest. Based on a series of narratives that outline researchers’ objectives, anticipated outcomes are compared to those that emerged over a 6-year period. Results indicate several contributions that the program has made toward raising awareness about climate issues in the US Southwest, increasing capacity to adapt to climate change and climate variability, and building lasting individual and institutional collaborative relationships. However, researchers sometimes envision direct applications of their work, such as informing policy, planning, and decision-making, to be different than what occurred within the 6-year timeframe. Further exploration of these results reveals implicit assumptions in understanding how scientific information translates into use. This article offers insight into how researchers envision their impact, the management and development of a mission-oriented research program, and the use of evaluation to understand how collaborative research contributes to societal and environmental change.