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Kirk Emerson

Kirk  Emerson

Professor of Practice, Collaborative Governance, Professor of Public Health (PHPM)

Community, Environment & Policy Department

1145 E South Campus
Social Sciences 315
PO Box: 210027
Tucson AZ 85721
(520) 621-3315


Professor of Practice, Collaborative Governance
Professor, Public Health

Kirk Emerson is Professor of Practice in Collaborative Governance at the University of Arizona School of Government and Public Policy with joint appointments in the Schools of Planning and Public Health. She is also a Faculty Associate at the University of Arizona’s Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and at Syracuse University’s Program for Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration in the Maxwell School. She is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. She received her B.A. from Princeton University, Masters in City Planning from MIT, and PhD in political science and public policy from Indiana University.

Her research focuses on collaborative governance, inter-agency cooperation, and conflict management, particularly related to climate change, public lands management, and border security.

Dr. Emerson has had a longstanding career in environmental conflict resolution and collaborative problem solving as a practitioner, trainer, researcher, and administrator. She is the former director of the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution of the Udall Foundation where she worked for ten years starting up and overseeing the federal government’s first independent environmental mediation program. Through her professional consulting work, she has provided conflict assessment, collaborative process design and facilitation, evaluation, and training services to clients in the public and private sector. Previously, she coordinated the environmental conflict resolution program at the Udall Center, where she directed applied research projects on water resources, endangered species, and western range issues. Before pursuing her doctoral studies, Emerson worked professionally in urban planning for eight years at the Bucks County Planning Commission in Pennsylvania, first as an environmental planner and then as the director of countywide planning. She served as a community mediator in the Philadelphia area, where she gained her initial experience and training in mediating land use and environmental disputes.

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