About the Climate Adaptation Science Program


The Climate Adaptation Sciences specialization prepares trainees for research-based careers that will integrate science, management, and policy to understand and adapt to a changing climate. 

Program Description

The Climate Adaptation Science program closely integrates research, instruction, work-place experience, and collaborations among scientists, federal, state, and local land and resource managers, policy-makers, trainees, and citizen stakeholders. The program emphasizes interdisciplinary research and includes training in informatics, modeling, communication, leadership, project management, risk assessment, decision-making under uncertainty, and interdisciplinary teamwork.

Trainees acquire primary disciplinary expertise in their departmental major degree fields. All trainees acquire facility in working on problems that span, and in teams that include, the full range of climate-adaptation-related disciplines.

Trainees complete a 9-credit specialization that includes two experiential elements. The required courses are two Interdisciplinary Research Colloquia (1 credit each) and the two-semester Studio course (5 credits), accompanied by CAS 6889 (1 credit). Trainees complete an internship (1 credit) with a government, industry, or NGO partner that precedes the year-long research studio with the opportunity for a second internship the following summer. Each trainee also designs and completes an Individual Communication Plan, with a Capstone project. Details are given in the Program Timeline.

Please note, all Utah State University graduate students in participating programs are eligible for the program.

CAS students complete a mentored internship with a government agency, NGO, or industry partner organization. Internship experiences precede a year-long research studio, with the option of a second internship the following summer. Through the internships, and a series of Science-Management-Policy Exchange meetings, trainees learn the cultures, opportunities and constraints, and science needs of the many workplaces in which climate adaptation science is created and used.

Skills Acquired
  • Collaboration across Disciplinary and Workplace Boundaries
  • Teamwork, as a Leader or Follower
  • Project Management
  • Risk Assessment and Decision-making
  • Communication with Scientist and Non-scientist Audiences
  • Reproducible Science
  • Comprehensive Thinking about socio-environmental issues

Team Research
CAS students collaborate to define and execute research that advances understanding of a student-team-defined problem in some area of climate adaptation science. Over the course of two years, students form interdisciplinary teams to define research problems, develop plans to address those problems, write and present formal proposals, and complete the research. The research results in a variety of outputs, including technical publications and presentations of new knowledge to scientist audiences and materials for other users of science, such as plans, brochures or reports, informational websites, publications in popular media, public conversations and briefings, etc.