Climate-Food-Energy-Water Nexus

The Environmental Science and Policy Program is launching a symposium series to explore the challenges and opportunities we face in enhancing human well-being while protecting the environment. This symposium will bring distinguished thinkers from around the world to explore what we know, what we need to know and what we must do as we move into a century of unprecedented environmental change, technological advancement and scale of human activity.

The event will include research focused seminars and discussion but will emphasize events and presentations that will speak to the broader MSU and Michigan community. In addition to live events and webcasts, the Inaugural Symposium will generate educational materials that can be used in classes and non-traditional education in the spring and beyond.

This symposium is made possible through the generous endowment of Barbara Sawyer-Koch and Donald Koch.


Wednesday-Friday, April 6-8, 2016
Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center
Michigan State University




Time Description
8:00am - 8:30 am


8:30am - 10:00 am



10:15am - 11:45 am




12:00pm - 1:30 pm



1:45pm - 3:15 pm



3:30pm - 5:00 pm



7:30pm - 9:00 pm



Special thank you to our steering committee: Dr. Thomas Dietz, Dr. R. Jan Stevenson, Dr. Julie Libarkin, and Dr. Phoebe Zarnetske. All your hard work has been appreciated.



Lynn Scarlett

Lynn Scarlett
Managing Director for Public Policy, The Nature Conservancy

Former Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Lynn Scarlett is worldwide Managing Director for Public Policy at The Nature Conservancy. In this role, Scarlett directs all policy in the United States and the 35 countries in which TNC operates. Scarlett also served at Interior as the Acting Secretary of the Interior in 2006. While Interior’s Deputy Secretary, Scarlett initiated and chaired the Department’s Cooperative Conservation Working Group and its first-ever Climate Change Task Force. She established the Interior’s Ocean and Coastal Activities office to coordinate cross-departmental ocean and coastal work. She chaired the nation’s Wildland Fire Leadership Council. She served on the Executive Committee of the President’s Management Council. She is author or co-author of publications on climate change adaptation; ecosystem services; large landscape conservation; and science and decision making. She chairs the Science Advisory Board of NOAA, co-chairs the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives Council established in 2014 by the U.S. Department of the Interior, and co-chairs the National Academy of Sciences Sustainability Roundtable. She also served on the US Global Change Research Program Committee and is a co-convening lead author of the National Climate Assessment. She is on the Dean’s Advisory Council of the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara. She also serves on the boards of trustees of the National Wildlife Refuge Association and is a member of the Coordinating Council of the Practitioners’ Network for Large Landscape Conservation. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she also completed her Ph.D. coursework and exams in political science and political economy.

Geology of the Planet: Welcome to the Anthropocene. The Economist, May 2011.

The Anthropocene: A Man-made World. The Economist, May 2011.

Enter the Anthropocene: The Age of Man. Elizabeth Kolbert, National Geographic.

The National Academies of Science/Royal Society report "Climate Change: Evidence and Causes."

American Association for the Advancement of Science. "Climate Science: What We know."


Tasso Azevedo

Tasso Azevedo
Rainforest Alliance

Tasso Azevedo is a forestry and climate change consultant and social entrepreneur. He was the founder and director of the Brazilian NGO Imaflora (Institute of Forest and Agriculture Management and Certification), Director of the National Forest Program at the Ministry of Environment in Brazil, the Secretary General of National Forest Commission and the first Chief & Director General of the Brazilian Forest Service. Tasso was one of the key people involved in the design and implementation of Brazil’s National Plan to Combat Deforestation in the Amazon, resulting in a more than 75 percent decline in deforestation in the region, as well as the Amazon Fund and the identification of Brazil's targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Tasso graduated from the School of Agriculture at the University of São Paulo and also serves as a board member of Imazon, Imaflora, Planeta Sustentável and the REDD Task Force. He also teaches post-graduate programs at the Fundação Instituto de Administração, Fundação Getulio Vargas, Pontificia Universidade Católica, Fundação Don Cabral and UniEthos.



Kate Brauman

Kate Brauman
Lead Scientist, Global Water Initiative at the University of Minnesota

Kate Brauman is the Lead Scientist for the Global Water Initiative at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. Kate’s research integrates hydrology and land use with economics and policy to better understand how water use by people affects the environment and our ability to live well in it. Through projects as diverse as payments for watershed services, global variation in “crop per drop”, and worldwide trends in water consumption and availability, Kate works with the Global Water Initiative to find sustainable solutions to pressing water issues. Kate received her doctorate from Stanford University and her undergraduate degree from Columbia University. Prior to her graduate studies, Kate worked in public education at the Natural Resources Defense Council and continues to speak and write about water for broad audiences.



Ed McCormick

Ed McCormick
Water Environment Federation

An expert in recovering valuable resources from wastewater, Ed McCormick is the 2014-2015 President of the Board of Trustees of the Water Environmental Federation, an international organization of water quality professions.

I've been thinking about the ideas around centralization in decisions that seek to ensure sustainability. Many framings of the question draw parallels between ecosystems and human systems. The debates on this topic can be surprisingly heated. Deeply held values are, often only implicitly, invoked. What do we understand about the interplay between efficiency and innovation, effectiveness and flexibility?

Lynch, A., Adler, C. E., & Howard, N. C. (2013). Policy diffusion in arid Basin water management: a Q method approach in the Murray–Darling Basin, Australia. Regional Environmental Change. doi: DOI 10.1007/s10113-014-0602-3

Orlove, B. (2005). Human adaptation to climate change: a review of three historical cases and some general perspectives. Environmental Science & Policy, 8, 589–600. doi: doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2005.06.009



Nadine Unger

Nadine Unger
Assistant professor of Climate Science at Yale School of Forestry & Environmnetal Studies.


Dr. Nadine Unger is an assistant professor of Climate Science at the Yale School of Foresty & Environmental Studies. Dr. Unger works in numerical modeling of the interactions between atmospheric chemistry and the climate.