Leadership Transition: ALI Welcomes new Research Director

Dr. Vic Adamowicz, outgoing Research Director, with Dr. Eran Kaplinsky, incoming Research Director.

Dr. Vic Adamowicz, outgoing Research Director, with Dr. Eran Kaplinsky, incoming Research Director.

This December, the Alberta Land Institute is pleased to announce a senior leadership transition, with the arrival of its new Research Director, Dr. Eran Kaplinsky.

Since its founding in 2012, ALI’s research agenda has been guided by Dr. Vic Adamowicz, an internationally-recognized resource economist, and professor in the University of Alberta’s Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology. Adamowicz built a research program that promoted interdisciplinary collaboration, and helped the Institute engage with key issues in the areas of land use change, ecosystem services, municipal development, and natural capital.

“Our approach has been to discover what issues government and stakeholders are seeing on the land, and develop research questions that can help inform those issues,” Adamowicz explains. “By getting academic research into the field before issues turn into headlines, we seek to equip decision-makers with the best information available.”

Land use issues rarely fall within the boundaries of a single discipline, so Adamowicz emphasized the development of diverse research teams including economists, GIS specialists, environmental scientists, systems engineers, municipal planners, and legal scholars. He also ensured that each major project established an advisory committee consisting of subject-matter experts, stakeholders, and government representatives.

“Building connections between academic research and the policy world is complex,” he elaborates. “We operate on different timelines, with different points of view, but when you keep the lines of communication open, the connection can yield powerful results.”

This strategy has helped position ALI as a leading land use research institute in Alberta, with its findings routinely being shared with senior provincial and municipal government personnel, as well as stakeholder groups and the media. That work will continue, but with new research leadership.

After his recent re-appointment as Vice Dean of the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Agricultural, Life, and Environmental Sciences, and an expansion of duties in that role, Adamowicz must step back from his role as Research Director. While he will remain heavily involved with a number of ALI’s projects –– most notably the Alberta’s Living Laboratory wetlands project –– his successor will lead the Institute’s research program into the future. Fortunately, that successor has a strong history with the Alberta Land Institute.

Dr. Eran Kaplinsky is a professor and legal scholar with both the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law and its Urban and Rural Planning Program. He has also been heavily involved in two of ALI’s most influential projects.

“I am honoured to join the Alberta Land Institute’s leadership team,” he says. “Having worked closely with Vic and the ALI staff on past projects, I have been impressed by the integrity of their research process, and their ability to bring academic research into policy discussions in this province.”

Kaplinsky served as co-author of A Guide to Property Rights In Alberta, released by ALI in 2014, which continues to be one of the most widely-read publications examining the state of property rights in the province. In the past year, he also co-authored the Institute’s internal study on compensation for oil and gas disruption on grazing leases in the Alberta – a complex and controversial policy matter currently being reviewed by both the provincial government and the Alberta Auditor General.

“Conducting research for peer-reviewed publication, and also having that work become a part of real-world policy discussion, is a great opportunity for researchers,” Kaplinsky explains. “I look forward to welcoming more academics to ALI’s research teams, and to building upon our strong relationships with governments and stakeholders throughout Alberta."

Kaplinsky’s expertise in the areas of property rights, land use planning and regulation, and municipal law will allow the Alberta Land Institute to further expand its research portfolio. The recent ALI report Urban, Suburban and Wet Growth in Alberta, by Dr. Sandeep Agrawal, has already laid the foundation for research in these areas, and upcoming revisions to the Municipal Government Act may yield numerous research questions which the Institute can address.

“By building upon our expertise in agriculture, water, governance, and expanding our research related to urban and rural development, ALI will play an even greater role in Alberta’s future land use policy discussions,” Kaplinsky concludes. “It is a very exciting time to join the ALI team.”