2017-2018 Executive Seminar Program Case Studies

2017-2018 Program Year


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Our three cases for the 2017-2018 program year explore the connection between communities and landscapes and how growth and change present both challenge and opportunity.

In the fall, we'll visit Central Oregon to hear from local leaders about how the growth of communities there is impacting surrounding natural resources. In the winter, we'll visit the Oregon Coast to see how communities are preparing for dramatic change in the form of earthquake and tsunami. In spring, we'll travel to Flagstaff, AZ to discuss public support for managing risk of wildfire and flooding.  We'll wrap up in June 2018 with a two-day capstone session in Portland.


The Paradox of Public Use: Managing and protecting natural resource lands in a time of changing demographics and increased use

Date: October 16 - 20, 2017

Location: Central Oregon

In the last several years, visitation to the Deschutes National Forest in Oregon has jumped between 15-30 percent each year with more than 4 million visitors expected in 2017. With personnel and budget to handle less than half of that, how is the Deschutes National Forest trying to meet multiple expectations for use and access, resource protection and public safety? Significant visitor increases at central Oregon's Smith Rock State Park also signal the growing challenge of protecting and managing a natural resource while also managing public use. This case will explore how changes in outdoor recreation use are challenging the West's natural resource agencies and local jurisdictions, and how new approaches are emerging to address this new reality.


Preparing for the Big One: Tsunami preparedness and community resiliency

Date: February 5 - 9, 2018

Location: Oregon Coast

Pacific Northwest coastal communities face a backdrop of existing natural resource challenges: changes in land use; emerging habitat protection and restoration needs; major infrastructure improvement and investments; providing for public safety; climate change.

Ongoing preparations for the forecast Cascadia subduction zone earthquake and resulting tsunami highlight the complexity of these background issues and raise the need for priority setting, cross-jurisdictional problem solving, coordination and public finance.

This place-based case will seek exportable leadership lessons and focus on multiple examples of communities, interests and state and agencies coming together--through the lens of earthquake and tsunami preparedness--to address the backdrop of challenges facing the Pacific Northwest coast.


Wildfire, Floods, and Public Support for Managing Risk: the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project

Date: May 7 - 11, 2018

Location: Flagstaff, Arizona

Catastrophic wildfire and post-fire flooding are a major risk factor for the public drinking water supply in Flagstaff, Arizona, and in many western communities. In 2012,Flagstaff voters recognized this risk and passed a $10 million public bond to concentrate increased restoration and management in key forested watersheds owned by the Coconino National Forest, Navajo Nation, State of Arizona and City of Flagstaff. This case will examine the public policy conversation that led to the successful vote to fund this work and development of the wide coalition of support. We’ll also examine now, five years on, how implementation of that work is making a difference across landownerships and for the future of the Flagstaff area.


Final Capstone Session

Dates: June 21 - 22, 2018

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 principals 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.

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