This past week the entire team met at UNAM for our third annual meeting. We began the session with a brief review of what we’ve accomplished in the last year- a functioning model prototype, mental model analyses, findings from the health team, a serious game based on our data from Mexico City (used for model validation from the perspective of residents as well as future potential as a social learning tool), and more. A busy year!
After a brief overview of accomplishments and the meeting agenda we spent some time discussing the challenges and benefits of MEGADAPT’s interdisciplinary, cross-institutional, cross-cultural team. Our complementary funding from the InterAmerican Institute is specifically encouraging this reflection, and this discussion builds on work we have been undertaking with this complementary funding for the last few years. This past year we conducted internal interviews with team members on this theme and found that the primary challenges are associated with difficulty in communication (large team, lack of relationships between team members, poor technology, language differences, vertical vs. horizontal), challenges associated with model integration between those contributing pieces of the model and those integrating the pieces of the model, the constant challenge of having only a limited amount of time to contribute to a project that actually requires a lot of commitment of time to really be able to understand all its moving parts, and differences in institutional context. Given its prominent position in science-policy interaction at the national level, LANCIS is explicitly concerned with the policy impact and utility of our work. As an institution more distant from the local context, ASU researchers may tend to be more strongly focused on academic publications. However, there have been many rewarding experiences associated with the project as well- new colleagues, new methods, new visions of what a socio-ecological system entails, humbling and rewarding experiences with stakeholders, ideas for theses, and more. Additionally, after taking some time to discuss how we might address these problems going forward, the team agreed that the best way to resolve issues was to really focus on re-opening various communication channels and working relationships.
Entering our final year of funding, we’ve also begun to think about how the project might be extended, synthesizing our ideas in publications, and re-engaging with stakeholders to refine and present the model. Additionally, though we have a functioning model prototype, in the words of our modelers, the next step is to transform the code and the programming from an “artisanal chocolate product” (created by our “chocolatier” Andres Baeza-Castro) to a more streamlined and manufactured Hershey chocolate bar with a clear and reproducible recipe…
A collaborative project seeking to improve capacities for risk management in Mexico City and to serve as a model for climate-change adaptation in developing countries.