What is the Ecosystem Workforce Program?

What is the Ecosystem Program?

The Ecosystem Workforce Program is an applied social science research and extension program built on the fundamental belief that ecology, economy, and governance are intimately interconnected. 

EWP is a joint program of the Institute for a Sustainable Environment at the University of Oregon and the College of Forestry at Oregon State University. This unique partnership allows Oregon’s two leading universities to collectively contribute to natural resource governance that fosters prosperity and sustainability. Together, we apply scientific expertise and leadership to produce better outcomes for land and people.

EWP was founded at the University of Oregon in 1994 to support the development of a high-skill, high-wage ecosystem management industry in the Pacific Northwest. Our work is continually informed by the current needs of natural resources practitioners, managers, and decision makers, and has evolved to provide state-of-the-art social science research and communication aimed at promoting the resilience of forests and people. EWP employs diverse social science methods from both qualitative (e.g., case studies, interviews) and quantitative (e.g., large dataset and spatial analysis) approaches on topics such as accomplishing cross-boundary restoration, wildland fire policy and management, forest governance, and rural economies and land use (for more detail, see following table).

Our publications and technical assistance aim to inform policy makers and practitioners, and contribute to scholarly and practical discourse. We disseminate knowledge through our own series of working and briefing papers, infographics, guides, videos, and fact sheets; as well as scientific journals and conferences, manager and practitioner networks, and partner events. We also seek to apply our research and other best available social science in real-world contexts through technical assistance to partners.

EWP is led by Dr. Heidi Huber-Stearns, Director, and Dr. Emily Jane Davis, Associate Director (OSU) and includes Senior Policy Advisor Dr. Cassandra Moseley and other research faculty and staff at University of Oregon and Oregon State University. A memorandum of understanding between the two institutions outlines procedures for effective collective operations. EWP projects are funded by a range of state and federal agency agreements, and competitively awarded research and extension grants. The success of our work relies on our strong partnerships with other universities; local, state and federal agency partners; NGOs; and the private sector.

For an overview of some of our current topic areas and research projects, see the following: Ecosystem Workforce Program: Who We Are, What We Do (pdf)

Current Research: We undertake research and monitoring about the ecosystem management industry, community-based forestry, federal land management, and the successes and challenges of innovation. Some of the results of this research can be found on our publications page.

Policy Education: We foster strategic policy making and decision making by disseminating the results of our research and monitoring in collaboration with community-based forestry organizations. The Ecosystem Workforce Program is a core group member of the Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition and a member of the National Forest Restoration Collaborative.

Community Resources: By assisting natural resource management agencies and rural communities with assessment, planning, implementation, and monitoring, we seek to increase the quantity and quality of local-level forest and watershed restoration jobs across the Pacific Northwest. Our resources page offer tools to communities, agencies, businesses, and workers.

Publications: Together with our collaborators we develop publications with two primary goals: (1) educating policy makers and practitioners and (2) contributing to scholarly and practical discourse through dissemination of EWP research. Publications with a policy education goal are found under our Briefing Papers section and are short 2-4 page documents. Working Papers provide the details of EWP research. Our Fact Sheets examine  and Other Publications include external publications authored by EWP faculty and colleagues.

Student Experience: Students from a diversity of departments across campus at the University of Oregon work with EWP faculty to assist with EWP research, collaborative project coordination, web design and maintenance, and general office support. We provide graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Oregon with experiential education through work study employment, paid and unpaid internships, independent study, and graduate employment (GE positions). These opportunities advance students' understanding and technical skills through participation in real projects. Available opportunities vary with projects; students interested in working with EWP faculty on research projects should visit our current research page to better understand our research topic areas. After visiting our current research page, students should contact relevant EWP faculty to discuss potential opportuntities.