About the Institute


Taken together, the potential larger-scale consequences of regional climate change in the Western hemisphere, the characteristics of extreme events crossing political borders, the likelihood of new places experiencing new kinds of hazards, and the rapidly growing Hispanic and Spanish-speaking population in the US, all demand a region-wide response that consolidates what we know. This institute seeks to develop an integrated response from a multi-sectoral, interdisciplinary and international community of scholars and practitioners in major global institutions that will provide a working framework for greater numbers of current and future experts to work towards solutions, and work toward them via mutually beneficial research collaboration across the Americas.  The Association of American Geographers (AAG), together with the PanAmerican Institute for Geography and History (PAIGH) of the Organization of American States (OAS), the US Geological Survey (USGS), the National Communication Association (NCA), and the United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNEP), co-organized this two-week long event in collaboration with and hosted on the campus of the Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá.

More than just a workshop and webpage, the PASI program seeks to spawn a longer-term collaborative network in the Americas and inform its future directions in research and education around the linkages among Climate Change, Hazards, Geographic Technologies, and Communication.

Vea Powerpoint en español.


  • to identify, engage, and integrate a new generation of scholars and practitioners across the region with on-going studies and activities of leading organizations directed at climate change and hazards;

  • to consolidate advanced knowledge around links between climate change and natural hazard risks in the region while using the integrative capacities of geographic technologies; and

  • to elaborate a collaborative research and educational agenda that spans across disciplines, across public and academic domains, and across the region.



The desired result of this PASI is a clear roadmap and collaborative mechanism for developing and sharing the knowledge necessary for responding to climate change and hazards in the Americas in an integrative way. 

1) Facilitation of International Research Collaboration

  • Formation of an authentic stakeholder group of scholars and practitioners communicating among themselves to consider climate change / hazards, their spatial dimensions, their regional character

  • Strengthening of indigenous academic institutions and agencies through improved mutual understanding along both conceptual and technical lines

  • Alignment of scientific tools and ongoing programs to the scholarly enterprise, e.g., consolidating and implementing inquiry-driven approaches and applications within the work of the organizers.

  • Enhanced international infrastructure for interdisciplinary research, including improved networks for sharing geographic knowledge for climate change / hazards beyond the participants of the institute training; raised awareness of new research needs for the science of communication on climate change/hazards, and greater awareness among decision makers and professionals about the potential contributions and the power of geographic tools and knowledge for addressing disasters related to global warming, sea level rise, rainfall change, and other phenomena

2) Contributions to the present state of knowledge in the field and to work in progress

  • The organizers of this proposed institute have joined together to individually and collectively create synergies within the state of knowledge and ongoing work related to climate change and hazards in the Americas. It is expected that separate projects and programs will benefit from this collaboration in unique ways, but also that the coordination will also lead to the identification of new areas to advance research and practice. Partners have ongoing and are developing plans to capture and dissemination these contributions via extensive outreach networks

3) Elaboration of a research and education agenda

  • Intellectual contributions to how spatial analytical approaches can aid in integration of interdisciplinary approaches to improve understanding of the dynamics of climate change and expected hazard impacts
  • Identification of an appropriate set of questions, and development of recommendations for how the knowledge necessary to address those questions can best be produced within an interdisciplinary setting. It is expected that the institute will find gaps in integration of macro / micro data, in understanding dynamics of vulnerability, and in technical abilities to accomplish a spatially explicit, dynamic collaboration across the region
  • Exploration of tensions among an advanced scholarly program on hazards, the uncertainty of climate change science, communication theories around various cultural audiences, and differences among disciplinary perspectives that present an opportunity to advance knowledge individually and collectively. Working through these tensions will be instructive for effectively integrating multi-disciplinary knowledge on the subject
  • Articulation of further questions for advancing understanding and addressing educational and communication needs around complex scientific knowledge of climate change and disaster preparedness, response, and recovery

4) Building of Knowledge and Skills of Participants

  • Content Knowledge: variability and type of climate change impacts over the region; scenarios, type and extent of hazards and expected change, preparation/mitigation/response/recovery, risk communication / education, vulnerability, disaster management over time, community resilience

  • Technical Skills: data acquisition, display, dynamics, spatial analysis, modeling, remote sensing, GIS, communication technologies, Vulnerability Scoping , visualization

  • Contextual Understanding: international agendas, organizations, initiatives, targets, global stage

  • Professional Development: mentoring, networking; international research collaboration.  Both the PASI’s structure and the lecturers themselves will enable a strong mentoring and peer-support model that increases the level and quality of engagement of participants with learning activities. Lecturers will be assigned as mentors to the emergent working groups of participants, and will guide them on the development of their digital white papers, according to their specialties. Lecturers have been chosen not only for being strong researchers, but are renowned for their strengths in mentoring graduate and post-graduate students. In addition, the participants will be encouraged to utilize the knowledge environment post-event to develop further research collaborations, and specific functionality will be built in to the web-based project site to allow peer mentoring activities and interactive features
  • Integration of Research and Education: This PASI aims to build a shared capacity around climate change and hazards in the Americas through a combination of learning and study activities. The event itself utilizes combinations of reading, lectures, case studies, discussions, group work, writing, and presenting, as an integrated set of activities in research and education. Thus it provides a forum for all individuals to variously assume responsibilities as students, peer-mentors, researchers, and presenters.
  • Promoting Diversity: In addition to the attention to diversely recruit institute participants by seeking prospective applicants from minority serving institutions as noted above, the event engages a diverse group of lecturers. The institute’s outcomes, by incorporating questions related to how climate change and hazards affect various communities, including Hispanic and Spanish-speaking groups in the US, persons with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged, can elevate the potential impact on integrating diversity in the institute’s activities through its broader impacts.



The PASI has created the following tangible products:

  • an online knowledge environment, built collaboratively by participants, called the Climate Change and Hazards Education Knowledge Environment, C2HEKE

  • a two-week institute to be held in Panama City, Panama from June 14-25

  • a set of White Papers that draw from the Emerging Themes generated by the online discussions and focused during the institute event

  • a set of Best Practices for working with large international and broad interdisciplinary groups under the PASI design and utilizing new social networking media and other communications technologies and techniques

  • Research Agenda, outlining a future framework for potential knowledge development on the intersecting themes of Climate Change, Hazards, Vulnerability, Geographic Technologies, Communication and Education 

Further Rationale

This PASI has been conceived and designed in a way that not only will advance specific knowledge and understanding within the respective individual fields of interest, namely climate change, hazards, communication, and geospatial technologies, but it will do so by integrating across these different disciplinary domains, offering an integrative framework for exploring creative and original insights. The approach is not only integrative in terms of bridging conceptual arenas but also in the way in which it is structured to enhance integration of research and education and to create synergistic outcomes across activities of institutional partners that are responsible for organizing it.   Read more about the academic and practical rationale for the PASI.