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Dr. Christine Overdevest, Sociology, Criminology and Law - Environmental Policy and Governance

Christine Overdevest is conducts research and writes about issues related to public policy and environmental governance. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, Criminology and Law at the University of Florida. More information can be found at: http://soccrim.clas.ufl.edu/directory/overdevest.html

Goals of the Environmental Policy and Governance component - Understand technical, legal and policy issues related to interpretation and application of the numeric and narrative approaches to nutrient management, with a focus on how courts, agencies, and affected stakeholders mobilize and interpret scientific data, promote and adjudicate claims, and settle disputes and controversies. Specific Environmental Policy and Governance goals include:

Particular attention to key themes such as whether particular water bodies are over- or under-protected, the need for site-specific alternative criteria, and the adequacy of science will be addressed. The project findings will feed into debates about whether numeric nutrient management approaches enable adjustment and adaptation to local conditions, and/or significantly limit or increase societal capacity to learn from management, i.e., to broader questions regarding the normative desirability of rigid vs. flexible regulation for 'good' law/policy. These questions are especially timely because more flexible approaches such as the narrative nutrient standards are being replaced by rigid approaches without adequate understanding of the ecological or policy implications.

This social science and law aspect of this project will operate in collaboration with the biological, geological and ecological aspects to generate a comprehensive interdisciplinary approach to the evaluation of numeric vs. narrative approaches to management. In the course of developing their research projects, the Fellows will:

(1) Search for and identify published administrative or judicial decisions that interpret narrative nutrient criteria.
(2) Search for and analyze underlying agency files to determine how the narrative nutrient criteria were interpreted and applied, as well as any conflicting interpretations of data, policy or law and how they were resolved.
(3) Identify published rules adopting numeric nutrient criteria, review the underlying administrative record, and identify cases in which numeric criteria were used in review of permit applications for significant technical and policy conflicts for review by a larger interdisciplinary group.
(4) Identify and interview watershed stakeholders, managers, and policy makers in order to understand their interests/values/perceptions regarding the benefits and weaknesses of narrative vs. numeric nutrient criteria.