The Center for Natural Resources & Environmental helps people solve complex problems, make informed decisions, and implement solutions to foster livable communities, vibrant economies, and healthy landscapes. To achieve these objectives, the Center provides the following services. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Shawn Johnson at

Multi-party Problem Solving

Center staff, fellows, and partners bring together diverse teams of people to achieve common objectives and solve problems of mutual interest. Each multi-party process is tailored to meet the specific needs and interests of the people involved, and may include:

  • Short consultations on different approaches to public participation, collaborative problem solving, public dispute resolution, and networking, among other topics;

  • One-time gatherings to explore common challenges and opportunities, exchange information, share ideas, and harvest lessons learned; and

  • More intense collaborative processes, advisory committees, policy dialogues, joint fact finding projects, and workshops or conferences.

We regularly work at local, state, regional, national, and international levels and can provide logistical and meeting support services as needed.

Facilitation and Mediation

The heart of leading multiparty problem-solving processes is skilled facilitation. The Center has a demonstrated ability to communicate with all sides of an issue; to understand, empathize, and explain one side to the other; and to help individuals and organizations bridge differences. We encourage participation, ownership, and creativity, and help diverse teams of people work together to accomplish common goals and aspirations.

Public Participation

The Center works with local, state, and national governments to engage stakeholders and citizens in important land use, resource management, and community-based decisions. The Center has expertise in designing public engagement processes and workshops that respond to the needs and interests of both the sponsoring agency and those of the public.

Stakeholder Analysis

The Center completes stakeholder analyses to help public, private, and nongovernmental organizations understand community needs and interests, stakeholder perspectives, decision-making contexts, and options for collaborative problem solving and conflict resolution. We talk with all the actors, listening intently, untangle the relationships, and unpack the perspectives so we can offer a clear picture of what’s going on. We regularly collect and synthesize information, map issues, build scenarios, and generate strategies to move from vision to action.

Public Process Design

Design public processes that are inclusive, informed, and deliberative. Adapt these principles to public participation, advisory committees, community-based collaboration, administrative rulemaking, environmental impact assessment, resource planning, and legislative policymaking.

Networks and Partnerships

Assist parties in identifying the goals and objectives of new networks, partnerships, and organizations. Help people design systems to learn from each other, build capacity, and in some cases cut the costs of recurring disputes over land, water, and other natural resources.

Leadership in Collaborative Problem Solving

Center staff and fellows are recognized experts in facilitation, mediation, collaboration, and conflict resolution. They are well known for their work in public lands policy, water law and policy, land-use planning, community-based collaboration, and cross-boundary resource management. We foster the use of collaborative approaches to natural resources and environmental problems through:

  • Outreach: serving on advisory panels, boards, and professional associations; speaking at conferences and workshops; publishing research and case studies; convening and facilitating reflective gatherings; and

  • Training: designing and leading programs and problem-solving clinics to build capacity and provide participants with practical skills and innovative strategies to address their unique needs and interests.

Policy Research & Analysis

The Center seeks to inform natural resources policy by gathering, analyzing, and disseminating information and knowledge to citizens and leaders.

  • Natural Resources Policy -- Through independent, nonpartisan research, we formulate decision-relevant policy options to help diverse teams of people identify effective solutions to shared problems. We regularly produce policy reports, issue briefs, and other research products.

  • Natural Resources Decision-making -- Improve the process of public decision-making by evaluating the effectiveness of alternative processes to engage citizens, build agreements, and resolve disputes. Identify lessons learned, best practices, and strategies for adaptive management. Create more responsive systems of governance by integrating inclusive, informed, and deliberative strategies into land use, natural resource, and environmental decision-making processes.