Kirk Emerson

PhD’97, Public Policy

Photo of Kirk Emerson
IU Bloomington


Kirk Emerson is a Professor of Practice in Collaborative Governance at the School of Government and Public Policy at the University of Arizona. She is also a Research Assistant at the Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration at the University of Syracuse’s Maxwell School. She studies collaborative governance, particularly related to climate change, border security, and public lands management.

Emerson has had a long career in environmental conflict resolution (ECR) and collaboration as a practitioner, trainer, researcher, and administrator. She is the founding director of the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution of the Morris K. Udall Foundation (1998-2008). Previously she coordinated the ECR program at the Udall Center, where she directed applied research on water resources, endangered species, and western range issues. Emerson started mediating land use and environmental disputes in the early 1990s, after working as a professional planner and administrator for eight years at the Bucks County Planning Commission in Pennsylvania.

Emerson received a BA from Princeton University, a master’s degree in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a PhD in Political Science and Public Policy from Indiana University. In 1998, Emerson was awarded the William Anderson Award by the American Political Science Association.