Oregon’s evolving natural resource management challenges and opportunities bring INR an array of interdisciplinary projects. To address these challenges and opportunities, INR maintains core programs and functions while remaining nimble enough to explore and work on emerging natural resource related focus areas of interest to Oregon. In practice, INR engages in:
INR identifies information from a wide variety of sources about Oregon's physical, biological, social, and economic features to inform critical decision-making processes identified through the policy research program. Through the data compilation process, missing information critical for decisions and areas of data duplication and inefficiencies are identified. We focus on natural resource data coordination and promotion of data standards to support statewide and regional assessments.
Through a state-of-the-art, web-accessible natural resources digital library (The Oregon Explorer Program), INR and its partners provide access to and integrate data from state and federal agencies, local governments, university scientists and citizens to support informed decisions and actions by people concerned with Oregon’s natural resources and environment.
The talent of the faculty at Oregon University System (OUS) institutions is the heart of INR’s success. As INR undertakes projects, we identify faculty and engage them in responsive, relevant research and policy analysis. In collaboration with OUS faculty, INR prepares and provides timely independent analyses of environmental and natural resource issues based upon expert evaluation and synthesis of existing data, and, where appropriate, develops new data. All INR studies and reports are placed in OSU Library’s Scholars Archive and are accessible by download to anyone worldwide.
INR coordinates and conducts evidence-based and systematic reviews to determine whether scientific information or analysis that informs a particular natural resource management decision has suitable scientific applicability, content, and rigor. The INR science review process aims to consider, evaluate, and synthesize existing scientific knowledge rather than to add to the body of scientific knowledge. INR’s science reviews are not reviews of the management decisions themselves nor do they advise the decision maker for or against a particular course of action. At a minimum the science advisory teams: (1) assess the information gathered and used to inform a decision; (2) assess the synthesis, interpretation, and inferences drawn to inform the decisions; and (3) describe uncertainties.
Most projects are initiated from outside sponsors such as government agencies. Depending on the complexity of the material, the review questions, the scope of work, and the budget, different levels of reviews are possible. In conducting the reviews INR and the selected science advisory team members remain objective and independent in their review and reporting.
Many models for promoting public dialogue and understanding exist. Society needs places, like universities, where complex natural resource and environmental issues can be discussed and debated outside typical political forums. Community leaders, whether policy-makers, non-governmental organizations or foundations, need time and space to think about the major challenges of the future in order to anticipate and tackle them early. Some issues will be highly politicized even before they are addressed, others may only have vague form in the minds of policymakers. Anticipating and helping develop policy for difficult eventualities will become a hallmark of INR.
INR’s neutral, versatile organizational structure with experience integrating knowledge from a variety of disciplines provides a much needed service to individual researchers, increases collaborative capacity, adds value to research, and enhances opportunities for future studies. INR supports participating faculty members through administrative tasks associated with obtaining and maintaining grants, coordinating interdisciplinary teams and assuring responsiveness to public questions.