Kirk Emerson

Emeritus Professor of Practice
Kirk Emerson

Social Sciences 139A

Kirk Emerson is Professor of Practice Emerita in the School of Government and Public Policy at the University of Arizona. She is best known for her scholarship and practice in collaborative governance and environmental conflict resolution, having worked in both academia and government at local and federal levels during her 40 plus years of public service. She is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. She was appointed the first editor of Perspectives on Public Management and Governance by the Public Management Research Association. In 2019, she was awarded the NASPAA/ASPA Distinguished Research Award and served as a Fulbright Specialist teaching collaborative governance at Lanzhou University in China. Dr. Emerson was the first director of the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (now the McCain National Center for Environmental Conflict Resolution) at the Morris K. Udall Foundation (1998-2008).

Dr. Emerson studies collaborative governance, public engagement, inter-agency cooperation, and conflict management in the context of natural resources and public lands management and implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act. Her current focus is on understanding how collaborative governance regimes change over time and building capacity to manage and participate in complex governance systems. For more information, see

Recent publications include:

  • Emerson, Kirk, Elizabeth Baldwin, Tyler A. Scott, Justin R. Pidot, Aaron M. Lien, Faiz Currim, Steven Bethard, Sudha Ram, Marc L. Miller, and Laura López-Hoffman, 2022. “Toward NEPA Performance: A Framework for Assessing EIAs,” Environmental Impact Assessment Review 97 106879.
  • Emerson, Kirk. 2022. "On Theory and Theory Building in Public Administration." Perspectives on Public Management and Governance 5.1 (2022): 3-10.
  • Ulibarri, Nicola, Kirk Emerson, Mark Imperial, Jens Newig and Ed Weber. 2020. “How does collaborative governance evolve? Insights from a medium-n case comparison,” Policy and Society. 1-21.
  • Emerson, Kirk and Elizabeth Baldwin. 2019. “Effectiveness in NEPA Decision Making: In Search of Evidence and Theory.” Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning Environmental Policy and Planning 21(4), 427-443.
  • Emerson, Kirk. 2018. “Collaborative Governance of Public Health in LMICs: Lessons from Research in Public Administration.” BMJ Global Health. 3.Suppl 4 (2018): e000381.