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It is the day after the Leuphana conference on the EU Watershed Framework Directive. I'm relaxing and reflecting for a day in the beautiful town of Luneberg, Germany before the long trek back to Davis. Thanks to Jens Newig, Mariele Evers, Oliver Fritsch, and Leonie Lange for organizing the proceedings. The goal was a cross-country comparison of public participation and watershed management in the context of the WFD. I was invited to present some insights from watershed management in California and the US, as well as discuss the potential for the ecology of games framework to be applied across the EU member states at the watershed level.
CEPB's Jim Sanchirico is also a fellow at Resources for the Future. He has a nice blog about valuation of the damages from oil spills with reference to the Gulf disaster:
I'm spending a few days in Cahir, Ireland, which is quite a small town in Southwest Ireland on the way to Cork. The town is centered on a big castle on the Suir River. I've just returned from a "tour" by one of the leaders of the Cahir and District Angling Association, which is one of the private clubs that manage rivers throughout Ireland, England, and Scotland. These angling clubs are basically a perfect example of local common pool resource associations, and they have been around in Ireland for roughly 80 years in some cases. The history is interesting because it is a story of transitioning from feudal landownership, to the emergence of national states, to local community management of fisheries resources. In the case of Cahir, it was a feudal estate owned by the Stuart? (I might be getting some of these names wrong because I don't have time to research every detail as I sit here and sip my Guiness) family.
I'm sitting on the Dublin Aircoach on my way back from the Dublin Network Conference. This was a small conference hosted at the University College of Dublin. There were a variety of interesting papers presented, ranging from purely descriptive network analysis to full-blown game theory general political equilibrium models with network effects. I was one of the keynote speakers and presented the current ecology of games paper that I'm writing with Garry Robins and Peng Wang. To be honest the paper received mixed reviews; some people definitely didn't buy it. One Dutch professor in particular, in a very unprofessional manner, actually called it rubbish. Of course he didn't really understand the model or research design very well and generally liked to hear himself talk.
I'm currently engaged in one of the most enjoyable activities of my job: interviewing real people engaged in real environmental and agricultural decision-making situations. In this case, I'm talking about winegrape growers and winemakers in Napa Valley, who I am interviewing as part of the sustainable viticulture project. I've interviewed 6 people so far, and all of them have been interesting for different reasons.
One of the cool things about the Napa growers is that it gives me a chance to scratch beneath the surface of the country's premium wine region. The grape prices, land prices, and wine prices are the highest in the country. Napa growers feel they provide some of the best wine in the world (and most people agree), and also are leaders in sustainability.
Here are some of the interesting stories I've heard; these may or may not ever end up in a scientific publication but I can vouch for their authenticity:
CEPB graduate students are highly encouraged (indeed, required) to apply for relevant fellowships and awards until they run out of eligibility. We have a pretty good track record of winning awards, and even those students who don't succeed in a particular year learn a lot of valuable grant writing skills (even they will tell you this is true, even though the process can be painful on top of classes and other duties). In 2010, Meredith Niles won a prestigous National Science Foundation graduate fellowship and Matt Hamilton was awarded the highly competitive Switzer Fellowship. Below is the announcement from Switzer, which went straight to the Dean of the Colleage of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and was accompanied by a widely broadcast press release. I'm not even listing all the students who have won awards, but congrats to those who have and keep trucking to those whose time is yet to come.
"Dear Dean Van Alfen,
As detailed on our projects page, our National Science Foundation study of sustainable viticulture is in full swing. But sustainable viticulture is not only a California phenomena. It is also occuring in countries like Australia, as illustrated by an interview about the Yalumba Wine Company.
In a rare instance of navel-gazing, there is some new research that shows more than 2/3 of ecology studies are focused on "protected" areas where human influence is minimized.
I have been pedaling the idea of "Extension 3.0" in the context of several grants and also meetings with administrators. It is beginning to get some traction within the college and UC Division of Ag and Natural Resources. When an official of DANR forwaded some of these materials to his staff, he described the reaction as "shaking up a can of soda in the hallway" because everybody got excited. I think this is good news in the context of a bureaucracy. See the attachment for a summary of the idea.
Our new website is almost up and running. It will be good to have something that is a "living" manifestation of the work of our group.