Matching Items (8)

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From Design Principles to Principles of Design: Resolving Wicked Problems in Coupled Infrastructure Systems Involving Common-Pool Resources

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Design is a fundamental human activity through which we attempt to navigate and manipulate the world around us for our survival, pleasure, and benefit. As human society has evolved, so

Design is a fundamental human activity through which we attempt to navigate and manipulate the world around us for our survival, pleasure, and benefit. As human society has evolved, so too has the complexity and impact of our design activities on the environment. Now clearly intertwined as a complex social-ecological system at the global scale, we struggle in our ability to understand, design, implement, and manage solutions to complex global issues such as climate change, water scarcity, food security, and natural disasters. Some have asserted that this is because complex adaptive systems, like these, are moving targets that are only partially designed and partially emergent and self-organizing. Furthermore, these types of systems are difficult to understand and control due to the inherent dynamics of "wicked problems", such as: uncertainty, social dilemmas, inequities, and trade-offs involving multiple feedback loops that sometimes cause both the problems and their potential solutions to shift and evolve together. These problems do not, however, negate our collective need to effectively design, produce, and implement strategies that allow us to appropriate, distribute, manage and sustain the resources on which we depend. Design, however, is not well understood in the context of complex adaptive systems involving common-pool resources. In addition, the relationship between our attempts at control and performance at the system-level over time is not well understood either. This research contributes to our understanding of design in common-pool resource systems by using a multi-methods approach to investigate longitudinal data on an innovative participatory design intervention implemented in nineteen small-scale, farmer-managed irrigation systems in the Indrawati River Basin of Nepal over the last three decades. The intervention was intended as an experiment in using participatory planning, design and construction processes to increase food security and strengthen the self-sufficiency and self-governing capacity of resource user groups within the poorest district in Nepal. This work is the first time that theories of participatory design-processes have been empirically tested against longitudinal data on a number of small-scale, locally managed common-pool resource systems. It clarifies and helps to develop a theory of design in this setting for both scientific and practical purposes.

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  • 2018

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Development of Complementary Fresh-Food Systems Through the Exploration and Identification of Profit-Maximizing, Supply Chains

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One of the greatest 21st century challenges is meeting the needs of a growing world population expected to increase 35% by 2050 given projected trends in diets, consumption and income.

One of the greatest 21st century challenges is meeting the needs of a growing world population expected to increase 35% by 2050 given projected trends in diets, consumption and income. This in turn requires a 70-100% improvement on current production capability, even as the world is undergoing systemic climate pattern changes. This growth not only translates to higher demand for staple products, such as rice, wheat, and beans, but also creates demand for high-value products such as fresh fruits and vegetables (FVs), fueled by better economic conditions and a more health conscious consumer. In this case, it would seem that these trends would present opportunities for the economic development of environmentally well-suited regions to produce high-value products. Interestingly, many regions with production potential still exhibit a considerable gap between their current and ‘true’ maximum capability, especially in places where poverty is more common. Paradoxically, often high-value, horticultural products could be produced in these regions, if relatively small capital investments are made and proper marketing and distribution channels are created. The hypothesis is that small farmers within local agricultural systems are well positioned to take advantage of existing sustainable and profitable opportunities, specifically in high-value agricultural production. Unearthing these opportunities can entice investments in small farming development and help them enter the horticultural industry, thus expand the volume, variety and/or quality of products available for global consumption. In this dissertation, the objective is three-fold: (1) to demonstrate the hidden production potential that exist within local agricultural communities, (2) highlight the importance of supply chain modeling tools in the strategic design of local agricultural systems, and (3) demonstrate the application of optimization and machine learning techniques to strategize the implementation of protective agricultural technologies.

As part of this dissertation, a yield approximation method is developed and integrated with a mixed-integer program to estimate a region’s potential to produce non-perennial, vegetable items. This integration offers practical approximations that help decision-makers identify technologies needed to protect agricultural production, alter harvesting patterns to better match market behavior, and provide an analytical framework through which external investment entities can assess different production options.

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Date Created
  • 2017