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2016-2017 Executive Seminar Program Case Studies

This Year’s Program Theme: Exploring resilient systems, both natural and organizational.

Port of Portland: Managing Growth and Change at the Intersection of Industry and Environment

Date: November 28 - December 2, 2016

Location: Portland, Oregon

Originally established by the Oregon legislature in 1891 to construct and maintain a twenty-five foot ship channel in the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, the Port of Portland now is a fundamental point of entry and export for people and trade goods and services that powers the economy of the region in the midst of the Portland area’s most sensitive natural resources. This case study will examine the Port’s four major programs (Airport Management, Marine Terminals, Land Management, and Industrial Park Development) and its complex and sometimes contentious relationships with federal and state regulatory agencies, the City of Portland, and NGOs. The case will also explore the following public policy questions: How has the Port of Portland worked to achieve its trade and economic mission while also protecting its essential natural resource capital? How has the Port anticipated and responded to international, national, and local policy choices, economics and its own changing workforce to ensure both economic and natural resiliency?

Solar Energy Development on Public Lands in Southern California

Date: February 6 - 10, 2017

Location: Southern California


The California Desert region holds some of the highest concentrations of solar energy potential in the United States. On public lands, solar development for largescale electricity projects is just beginning, but the future looks bright. The BLM received a flood of solar applications in the late 2000s. In late 2010, the BLM approved the first utility-scale solar energy projects on public lands, each carefully considered through detailed environmental reviews with full public involvement. Given growing levels of interest in and mandates for renewable energy portfolio standards and for natural resource protection, how have the regulatory and land management agencies sought to balance competing needs while also pursuing resiliency? From an organizational standpoint, how has this required agencies and communities to change their business models, policy, and organizational structures (their organizational resiliency) to engage this need/opportunity? This case will bring together community leaders, private energy sector leaders, public agencies and natural resource managers to explore how they have responded to the challenge and opportunity of this emerging topic.


Creating Fire Resilient Communities: Implementation of the National 

Cohesive Wildfire Strategy

Date: May 8 - 12, 2017

Location: Bakers City, Oregon


Significant changes in policy, climate, economy and ecology present formidable challenges to forests across the West and their adjacent communities. Record fire seasons have resulted in growing losses, costs, natural resource degradation and direct threats to public safety. In Northeast Oregon, the Blue Mountain Cohesive Strategy Pilot is bringing together state, federal and private landowners, local government, emergency responders and a variety of public and private funding sources to create new and different partnerships and governance to address the challenge. At the heart of the work is creating more resilient natural landscapes, but in the process of pursuing this goal, agencies and communities have increased their own organizational resilience and capabilities. This nationally-recognized project brings together natural science, social science, community engagement and enhanced operational planning to unite organizations formerly at odds, and to use best practices to prioritize and manage wildfire risk and to create better outcomes for the landscape and communities. This case will bring together the key players, community leaders and engaged landowners to describe the social, economic, and environmental aspects of this work. The case will focus on how the pilot has brought people together and made a difference to landscape and community, and how it can be exported to other communities and disciplines.


Final Capstone Session

Dates: June 15 - 16, 2017

Location: Portland State University Campus


In stonework, a capstone is the central block that holds an arch together and supports the other stones in the arch. The arch of the ESP program year is held together by the final two-day wrap-up session, which integrates the leadership lessons learned over the course of the year with the practical challenges participants face in their agencies.

Participants come prepared to discuss issues from their own work experience and apply principles learned during the year to these issues. They present their conclusions to a panel of ESP Advisory Board members and Portland State University faculty, who provide feedback. Beyond providing a summative learning experience, this session provides an opportunity to deepen professional relationships and friendships formed over the program year.