NEWAVE e-Lecture Series: Adaptive water governance and learning | Prof. Andrea Gerlak

December 15, 2020, 16.00 - 16.35

Adaptive water governance and learning

Learning helps take into account complex dynamics and uncertainty inherent in water governance and enables interactions between individuals, organizations, agencies and institutions across multiple governance scales. This talk traces the rise and evolution of learning scholarship and its connection to water governance. It highlights how learning is central to a number of theoretical approaches, especially adaptive governance, but also social-ecological systems, climate change adaptation, collaborative governance, and policy change. This talk will highlight how researchers are defining, conceptualizing, and measuring learning, and the challenges inherent in these approaches. In addition, we will investigate what learning looks like in practice – including factors enabling and hindering learning -- and what learning means for water governance.


Gerlak, Andrea K. and Tanya Heikkila. (2011). Building a Theory of Learning in Collaboratives: Evidence from the Everglades Restoration Program. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 21(4): 619–644.

Gerlak, Andrea K., Tanya Heikkila, Sharon L. Smolinski, Dave Huitema, Derek Armitage. (2017). Learning our way out of environmental policy problems: a review of the scholarship. Policy Sciences 51(3): 335-371.

Gerlak, Andrea K., Tanya Heikkila and Jens Newig. (2020). Learning in environmental governance: opportunities for translating theory to practice. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning.


Prof. Andrea Gerlak 

Andrea K. Gerlak is Professor at the School of Geography, Development & Environment (SGDE) and Research Professor at Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, at the University of Arizona. Her research focuses on institutions for governing water resources. She examines cooperation and conflict around water, including questions of institutional change and adaptation to climate change in rivers basins, and human rights and equity issues in water governance. Gerlak is a senior research fellow with the Earth System Governance Project, an international social science research alliance exploring political solutions and novel, effective governance mechanisms to address global environmental challenges. She recently served as a Lead Author on the Earth Systems Governance Science and Implementation Plan, which sets out the agenda for the next decade of earth system governance research. She serves as a co-editor for the Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, an international journal published by Taylor and Francis providing a forum for the critical analysis of environmental policy and planning. She also is a member of the editorial board for Anthropocene, a journal addressing the nature, scale, and extent of the influence that people have on Earth.

About the e-Lecture Series:

This online training module has the objective to engage the NEWAVESRs and the audience in different water governance perspectives. All lectures are open to the public upon registration.

Please register here

A participation certificate can be requested if attending at least 80% of the online public talks.

*All times are in CET (UTC+1)

We would love to know what you think! Please leave a comment below and engage in our online discussion group.