Office: ENVD 150
Bruce is an Associate Professor in the Program in Environmental Design and the Program in Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, faculty in the Masters of Environment Program, core faculty in the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, and a faculty research associate in the Institute for Behavioral Science.
How can communities combine forces to adapt to social and ecological challenges and foster transformational change? This is the motivating question for my work. I partner with learning networks, which enable place-based learning and system-wide adaptation to innovate solutions that are both site-specific and applicable network-wide. Learning networks do more than just solve local problems – they promote fundamental change by encouraging practitioners to engage in reflection and learning by addressing essential questions like, “What is the system in which I live and practice, and how do I want to change it?”
Accomplishing this isn’t easy, and I am particularly inspired by skilled network facilitators, or “netweavers”. Netweavers balance network-wide coherence with community autonomy, encouraging communities to experiment with new approaches that suit their circumstances. Netweavers support an open flow of ideas between communities and work to develop collective capacity that can overcome powerful resistance to systems change. To support their amazing work, I manage a learning community of netweavers, the Netweaver’s Network.
My research is qualitative and interpretive, and I apply the principles of participatory action research. I seek to develop close partnerships with the networks I study, engaging netweavers in the research process and providing them with insights from research that can help them achieve their goals. I am particularly interested in partnering with netweavers who are attempting to promote positive change across critical social and ecological thresholds. These include my five primary projects – the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network, the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Initiative, the Locally-Managed Marine Areas Network, the Savory Institute’s restorative agriculture network, and the National STEM Education Centers network.