To address the ongoing environmental and climatological crises of climate change, and how it will alter ecosystems across the globe, will require new and innovative environmental governance strategies. The 21st century has seen a dramatic shift in technology and social norms that have fundamentally changed the way we coordinate and make decisions at individual, organizational, and societal levels. The term “network society” has been applied to this mode of organization. Through networks, people leverage informal relationships to exchange ideas, build rapport, identify common interests, work together, share power, and solve problems of mutual interest. Networked forms of governance emerge when people realize that they (and the organizations they represent) cannot solve a particular problem by acting independently and that their interests may be better served through collaboration, drawing on their diverse capabilities. Yet, academic and managerial ideas vary on the most effective ways to govern through networks and little consensus exists. This presentation explores various theories of governance – network, polycentric, and multi-level – and examines them through empirical evidence collected in a variety of landscapes across North American. Successful adaptation will require an environmental governance of the Anthropocene.
Dr. Bixler is a research assistant professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Bixler’s work focuses on collaborative governance and the ways that cross-sector networks influence policy and on-the-ground outcomes. He recently published a book, Forest Conservation in the Anthropocene, that examines the impacts of climate change on America’s forests and policy responses to facilitate adaptation. More generally his research and teaching focuses on the interplay between society and environment. He has published in numerous social science and environmental science journals on topics of land and water management, biodiversity conservation, climate adaptation, residential development, and urban resilience.