Date of Award

Spring 2019

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Catherine M. Ashcraft

Second Advisor

Larry Mayer

Third Advisor

Jennifer Brewer


The scale and rate of climate change in the Arctic has increased the sense of urgency surrounding development of systems-level observing programs that aim to capture and analyze time series data related to environmental change. While the international scientific community has made great strides in program design and technological innovation, gaps in coverage remain between observing systems, presenting a complex interdisciplinary problem, or “grand challenge.” Research that aims to address global scale challenges, such as those faced in a rapidly changing Arctic, are often associated with extremely high operational costs and typically extend beyond the scope and capabilities of any one research organization, government, or country. Therefore, the need to maximize resources through science diplomacy, or facilitation of international scientific cooperation, has become critical to the success and sustainability of long-term observing programs. The Distributed Biological Observatory (DBO) represents a case study that can be examined within the context of science diplomacy to better understand the various stakeholder groups, issues, interests, potential barriers, and opportunities associated with design and implementation of international observing systems.

These findings present results from 16 interviews conducted with stakeholders from 2017-2018. This pilot assessment points toward a need to engage beyond the DBO’s original stakeholder base of scientists in order to reach the broader range of groups who may be interested in a Baffin Bay area program including indigenous communities, government agencies, regional groups/NGOs, military bodies, private industry, and Arctic networks. A main objective of this research is to create a framework for future analysis of cooperative international scientific research programs using a science diplomacy lens.