Kirk Emerson

Emeritus Professor of Practice

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 received her B.A. from Princeton University, Masters in City Planning from MIT, and PhD in political science and public policy from Indiana University. She is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.

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

Her recent publications include:

  • Emerson, Kirk, and Tina Nabatchi. 2015. Collaborative Governance Regimes. Georgetown University Press.
  • Emerson, Kirk, and Tina Nabatchi. 2015. Evaluating the Productivity of Collaborative Governance Regimes. Public Performance and Management Review. 38(4). 717-747.
  • Emerson, Kirk, Alexandra P. Joosse, Frank Dukes, Wendy Willis, and Kim Hodge Cowgill. 2015. Disrupting Deliberative Discourse: Strategic Political Incivility at the Local Level. Conflict Resolution Quarterly. 33(3).
  • Emerson, Kirk, and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2014. Adaptation in Collaborative Governance Regimes. Environmental Management 54(4). 768-781.
  • Emerson, Kirk. 2011. “Collaborative Management and Climate Change.” In Edella Schlager, Kirsten Engel and Sally Rider (eds.). Navigating Climate Change Policy in a Federal System. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press.
  • Emerson, Kirk, Tina Nabatchi, and Stephen Balogh. (2012). “An Integrative Framework for Collaborative Governance.” Journal of Public Administration, Research and Theory. 22(1). 1-29.
  • Emerson, Kirk, Patricia Orr, Dale Keyes and Kathy McKnight. 2009. Understanding Environmental Conflict Resolution: Evaluating Performance Outcomes and Contributing Factors. Conflict Resolution Quarterly. 27(1). 27-64.

Dr. Emerson has had a longstanding career in environmental conflict resolution and collaborative problem solving as a practitioner, trainer, researcher, and administrator. She was the founding director of the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution of the Udall Foundation where she worked for ten years 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.