Events & Media: Charles Curtin

The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
at the University of California, Santa Barbara



"Cross-scale experiments with adaptive capacity in near-shore ecosystems of the Gulf of Maine"

Charles Curtin
Professor, Department of Environmental Studies, Antioch University, Keene, New Hampshire
Director, North Island Science Cooperative, North Haven Island, Maine

Monday, Oct. 24, 2011, 11:30 - 12:30
Bren Hall 1414

"From Arizona's deserts to the coastal waters of Maine, Dr. Curtin works with groups of ranchers, fishers, and others on community conservation projects that link science with grassroots, local knowledge."Lynn Scarlett, host

In the space of a few centuries, near-shore marine ecosystems in the Gulf of Maine have gone from being some of the world's richest marine ecosystems to being relatively depopulated, with the most dramatic changes occurring in recent decades. The well-chronicled decline of these near-shore waters provides an opportunity to examine the interaction of ecology and policy, and the indirect impacts of governance on complex systems. The outcomes illustrate the importance of linking the scale of management with the scale of the resource, and how place-based approaches to science and policy can contribute to renewing these systems and making them more resilient in the face of change.

Charles Curtin is a conservation scientist who has a long-term interest in climate change and its interaction with land use. While many global-change scientists focus on large-scale modeling, in his work, he emphasizes understanding the “on the ground” implications of environmental change for biological and social systems and developing relevant institutions for adaptation. For more than twenty years, he has designed and implemented long-term, large-scale conservation science programs that examined the role of climate change, land use, and the interaction of people with the environment in order to sustain resilient terrestrial and marine ecosystems. He helped design the science programs for the rancher-led Malpai Borderlands Group, which has become a model for linking place-based conservation and science, and has worked globally on projects related to conservation design in ecosystems from Mexico to Africa and the Middle East. In his most-recent programs, he has focused on formulating ways to "jump-start" near-shore ecosystems, building synergy between marine and terrestrial conservation strategies, and applying complexity theory and resilience science to large, open ecosystems. In addition to more than fifty articles and monographs, his work has been featured in a number of popular media, ranging from BioScience magazine to The New York Times. Many of these experiences are summarized in a forthcoming book from Island Press. It focuses on preserving the function of large, dynamic systems and applies complex systems-based approaches to ecological policy design. Dr. Curtin holds an MS in Land Resources and a PhD in Zoology, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

NOTE: Community colloquia are hosted by Bren faculty members and are generally high-level talks about research in a particular area of environmental science and management.


To join the "bren-alerts" mailing list and receive announcements about Bren School news and events, or to manage your bren-alerts account, go to:

See a complete list of currently scheduled Bren events at:

To have an event considered for distribution via bren-alerts, send e-mail to:

For more information or for assistance in accommodating a disability, please contact BJ Danetra

To find out how to support the Bren School, please contact Jennifer Purcell Deacon