2017 MCC Forum at Hawaiʻi Conservation Conference

July 19, 2017 from 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Programmatic Context Behind HCC Forum: The Manager Climate Corps

The Manager Climate Corps (MCC) was created in 2015 by PI-CASC at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. The MCC was developed to support and connect the experiences of local natural resource managers, cultural practitioners, policy professionals, and researchers within long-term relationships. Through knowledge coproduction, the process of producing usable science through collaboration, managers and scientists coproduce research products which directly inform policy and meaningfully address the complex challenges faced by local managers and the communities they are connect to.

Working closely with the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science Graduate Program at UH Hilo, the MCC:

  1. funds manager-driven graduate research projects that assist managers in adapting to socio-ecological shifts such as climate change, land-use change, invasive species impacts, and cultural change
  2. develops interactive forums that build adaptive capacity by supporting diverse professional networking opportunities. The MCC currently funds four applied research projects involving five graduate students

The MCC funded four applied research projects involving five graduate students from 2016-2018. These five graduate students were showcased in the well-attended forum at the 2017 Hawaiʻi Conservation Conference (HCC). Below is a summary of the forum experience.

Dive Deeper: MCC 2017 HCC Report, 2017 HCC Conference Program (pg. 16), 2017 HCC Abstract Book (pg. 44)

2017 HCC Forum Foundations

Group of partners talking around a table at conference.
Small group discussions: sharing the experiences of managers, cultural practitioners, policy professionals, community groups, scientists, and graduate students to build adaptive capacity.


  1. Introduce participants to a variety of stakeholder-driven projects that exemplify knowledge coproduction (KC) in action.
  2. Directly engage HCC participants within in-depth discussion and reflection upon KC to better understand and improve upon the process while identifying the ways in which many organizations already actively utilize KC.


Participants should have a clear understanding of KC as a collaboration between researchers and decision makers and specifically the following foundations of the KC process in relation to adaptation, resilience, and sustainability through climate change impacts.

  • KC networks are effective mechanisms to create actionable, utilized science products and to directly support resilience, adaptation, and sustainability within local communities through socio-ecological change.
  • Vital to define stakeholders early in the KC process, as well as stakeholder scale (i.e. spatial, political, or organizational scales).
  • Vital to build collaborative, iterative, and reciprocal communication throughout product/project development between knowledge producers and stakeholders.
  • Vital to establish long-term relationships as the priority beyond a singular product in a specific window of time.

Session Highlights


Woman and child watching documentary.
Screening of the new MCC film documenting a remote, place-based networking experience the MCC developed in Kaʻū, Hawaiʻi

Becky Ostertag introduced the partnership between the UH Hilo Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Studies program and the MCC. Scott Laursen provided an overview of the MCC foundations and the collaborative process. Next graduate students within the MCC, including Louise Economy, Cherie Kauahi, Kamala Anthony, Rose Hart, and Joanna Norton, offered short panel presentations outlining their graduate research projects to highlight on-the-ground examples of knowledge coproduction  within local community and professional networks on Hawaiʻi Island. Read more on their projects here.

Documentary Film

the MCC’s new documentary film entitled “Resilient Voices” was screened as an out-of-the-box example of networking potential. Watch it here.

Small Group Discussions

The second half of the forum transitioned to small group discussions centering on how to utilize and improve the knowledge coproduction process across disciplines at multiple scales and, thereby, build adaptive capacity in Hawaiʻi. Sharon Ziegler-Chong moderated this portion of the forum. Each group engaged in open-ended yet focused discussion of how to increasingly unite diverse worldviews and build trust across growing professional networks. The forum concluded with 10 minutes of plenary wrap up discussion involving teach back of takeaways from each small group to all session participants.


A diverse group of 52 cultural practitioners, policy professionals, scientists, graduate students, and community leaders attended the forum from a wide array of backgrounds including federal, state, county, and non-profit organizations. For a full list of participating organizations, check out the MCC 2017 HCC Report. Of the 52 participants, 28 were women and 24 were men. Collectively the small groups contributed 11 pages of bulleted takeaways in support of collaborative adaptive action. These takeaways along with contact and association information for all forum participants were collated and emailed to the entire group after the event in support of continuing connections established in the forum.

Highlights from Small Discussion Groups

  • There is a need to develop more diverse and deeper relationships across professional boundaries
  • If we are to collaborate and build deep trust, we must invest in person (face-to-face) and connect beyond intellectual levels (personal); breaking down conventionally hierarchical communication lines.
    • Requires much time and patience to earn trust within collaborative networks.
    • We need to be willing to put our own projects on hold and invest directly in community efforts to develop trust within local community networks (e.g. community events outside one’s professional field, community work days, etc.).
    • Do not come with preconceived ideas. Best to be open to developing ideas collaboratively by listening to others without expectation and allowing ourselves to be taught.
    •  Trust requires vulnerability and transparency
  • Professional networks need to increasingly include disciplines beyond natural resources, biology, ecology, etc., such as psychology, business, anthropology, and engineering.
  • Need to focus on collaboration within upper administrative levels because building trust at these levels will trickle down.
  • Higher education needs to improve in developing opportunities for direct community connections.
  • Phrase “knowledge coproduction” is difficult to connect to; could shift to different terminology
    • Regardless the words we choose to label the collaborative process, action is the most important element of this process.
  • Challenging undercurrents of competition on many levels need to be shifted to collaboration (e.g. competition for short-term funding can limit long-term collaboration efforts).
  • Need more round table conversations to build a diverse professional planning platform that drives collaborative action in the field. Round tables conversations are effective in drawing diverse viewpoints into one room. Round tables can be effective in creating two-way feedback loop between collaborative planning in the office and collaborative work done in the field.
  • Empower local groups to make local decisions through knowledge coproduction.
    • Need mechanisms in place to involve more professionals and communities in the knowledge coproduction process.
      • Boundary organizations can help facilitate
      • Not all community groups will be ready/willing to participate. Move forward with groups that are ready to do so.