Initial Programmatic Elements

The Alliance will undertake and support activities, as well as facilitate scholarship, across disciplines to address extreme environmental event problems. It will do so not only by ensuring that scholars from different disciplines, and operational practitioners and other stakeholders, can find one another, but also quickly become collaboratively productive because they have been familiarized, in new and creative ways, with each other’s challenges, conceptual approaches to problems, study methods, operational procedures, and lexicons. The Alliance also will help dynamic and diverse research teams develop powerful new understandings of societal choices around extreme environmental events, as well as help educate community members about cross-disciplinary research, e.g., translating social and behavioral science knowledge to forecasting or emergency management applications.

Alliance connection and translation activities aim to provide the up-front investment necessary to position for more rapid partnership and contribution to research both individually and in interdisciplinary teams. They include but are not be limited to the following:

  • Organizing and supporting an intellectual commons that helps bring multiple organizations and sectors together in highly strategic, creative ways to achieve the following: sharing information about their work; learning about compelling needs and research challenges; building mutual understanding and trust; establishing effective communication pathways across disparate lexicons; and positioning participants to find and pursue funding and develop ideas individually and in multi-sector teams;
  • Synthesizing information regarding funding opportunities, including deconstructing grant solicitations, and translating them into the language of different disciplines and sectors, to help researchers and other participants pinpoint how their skills and expertise might be combined to contribute in ways that otherwise would not be recognized or pursued;
  • Providing resources that leverage other sources of support to help rapidly translate research outcomes and other knowledge, both existing and new, into operational practice, including prototyping new technologies, testing them in operational or quasi-operational settings, and collecting data that can be used to stimulate new concepts using existing as well as future infrastructures;
  • Helping identify needed, specific collaborators and integrating the work of others to expand the borders of one’s own capabilities;
  • Assisting with the preparation of proposals and conducting pre-submission reviews to maximize competiveness, especially for interdisciplinary research activities where success rates tend to be particularly low;
  • Providing electronic resources for facilitating effective interaction among Alliance participants, to include 1) facilitating networking via a database of stakeholders that summarizes their role(s), expertise, accomplishments, interests and contact information; 2) helping ensure current research expands the existing knowledge base via a portal to past research results (reports, articles, videos, publications) data sets and grant awards; and 3) facilitating collaboration, information about funding opportunities and supporting analyses translating such opportunities across disciplines and information suggesting possible methods for engagement. As noted previously, some of these capabilities already exist, and the Alliance consequently will not duplicate such efforts but rather will coordinate with them to maximize effectiveness and add value where possible;
  • Providing travel funding to assist in developing collaborations, for exploratory activities, and to enhance participation in facility-based experiments such as those conducted at the NOAA test beds. This support will be provided to researchers, practitioners, as well as students and likely will consist of a matching against institutional or grant dollars;
  • Developing resources explaining the work of other disciplines including approaches to framing problems, experimental design and hypothesis development, application of qualitative as well as quantitative methodologies, and integration into broader contextual frameworks. Such resources will include online videos, webinars, and online forums;
  • Creating regular forums that intentionally and strategically integrate researchers, operational practitioners, and stakeholders (including agencies, the private sector, entrepreneurs and philanthropists) to present their latest findings and ideas and articulate the most significant future challenges; and
  • Broadening the participation of traditionally underrepresented and underserved populations in everything it does to ensure that all possible contributors to The Alliance mission are given the opportunity to participate.

Although the Alliance is not a funding organization, it will make targeted investments, within the administrative structure described in the following section, to support the pursuit of high-risk/high-benefit activities that cannot readily be accommodated with Federal or other funding. Examples of such investments might include experiments involving rapidly prototyped, rapidly inserted technology, or in response to environmental events that require rapid engagement to avoid loss of information, perhaps in coordination with the NHC in Boulder, Colorado.