Andrea K. Gerlak

About Andrea K. Gerlak

My research agenda examines the causes of—and innovative solutions to—some of our world’s most pressing environmental challenges. Broadly speaking, I am interested in how we can better design institutions to promote adaptive, flexible policies to improve human and ecosystem well-being and produce fair and equitable decisions.

I hold a joint appointment at the University of Arizona as an Associate Professor in the School of Geography and Development and as an Associate Research Professor at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy. 

Presently, I serve as a co-editor for the Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning (, an international journal published by Taylor and Francis providing a forum for the critical analysis of environmental policy and planning. I am also a member of the editorial board for Anthropocene (, a journal addressing the nature, scale, and extent of the influence that people have on Earth.

Before joining the School of Geography and Development, I served as the director of academic development with the International Studies Association ( where I facilitated academic development across ISA’s substantive academic sections, including developing programs to foster junior scholar engagement and program development in international studies. In addition, I have over ten years’ experience building, administering, and teaching in interdisciplinary environmental studies programs during my time as a faculty member at Guilford College and Columbia University.

I am interested in working with prospective graduate students on issues of water governance in the U.S. and internationally, especially around issues of stakeholder engagement, the science-policy interface, and equity and justice.

Areas of Study

  • Water governance and policy 
  • Global environmental policy 
  • Transboundary waters 
  • Groundwater management 
  • Resilience, adaptation, social-ecological systems 
  • Western U.S., U.S., Latin America, SE Asia, Europe

Research Interests

As a human-environment geographer, I work at and contribute to the intersection of institutions, governance, international relations, and public policy. My work cuts across a variety of different geographic contexts from international river basins like the Colorado River basin where I live and work to cities around the world engaged in sustainable water practices and innovations.  My research engages with and contributes to questions of institutional design around stakeholder engagement, learning and adaptation, and processes for how knowledge is constructed in human-environment interactions.

Recently, I have been studying green infrastructure policy innovations in the state of Arizona, with attention to issues of justice and equity. I have also been writing on interdisciplinarity for global environmental change and the role of academics and researchers in framing environmental challenges and working together to identify solutions and agendas for change.

Selected Publications


Betsill, Michele, Tabitha Benney, and Andrea K. Gerlak, editors. 2020. Agency in Earth System Governance. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press (forthcoming).


Gerlak, Andrea K., Madeline Baer, and Paula Lopes. 2018. Taking Stock of the Human Right to Water. International Journal of Water Governance 6: 108-134.  

Staddon, Chad, Sarah Ward, Laura De Vito, Adriana Zuniga‑Teran, Andrea K. Gerlak, Yolandi Schoeman, Aimee Hart, and Giles Booth. 2018. Contributions of green infrastructure to enhancing urban resilience. Environment Systems and Decisions 38(3): 330–338.

Mahon, Roché, Christina Greene, Shelly-Ann Cox, Zack Guido, Andrea K. Gerlak, Jodi-Ann Petrie, Adrian Trotman, Diana Liverman, Cédric J. Van Meerbeeck, Wazita Scott, and David Farrell. 2019. Fit for purpose? Transforming National Meteorological and Hydrological Services into National Climate Service Centers. Climate Services 13: 14-23.

Bolognesi, Thomas, Andrea K. Gerlak, and Gregory Giuliani. 2018. Explaining and Measuring Social-Ecological Pathways: The Case of Global Changes and Water Security. Sustainability 10: 4378.

Albrecht, Tamee R., Robert G. Varady, Adriana Zuniga-Teran, Andrea K. Gerlak, Rafael Routson De Grenade, América Lutz-Ley, Facundo Martín, Sharon B. Megdal, Francisco Meza, Diego Ocampo Melgar, Nicolás Pineda, Facundo Rojas, Rossi Taboada, and Bram Willems. 2018. Unraveling Transboundary Water Security in the Arid Americas. Water International 43(8): 1075-1113. 

Gerlak, Andrea K., Lily House-Peters, Robert G. Varady, Tamee Albrecht, Adriana Zúñiga-Terán, Rafael Routson de Grenade, Christina Cook, and Christopher A. Scott. 2018. Water security: A review of place-based research. Environmental Science and Policy 82: 79–89.

Gerlak, Andrea K., Zack Guido, Catherine Vaughan, Val Rountree, Christina Greene, Diana Liverman, Adrian R. Trotman, Roché Mahon, Shelly-Ann Cox, Simon J. Mason, Katharine L. Jacobs, James L. Buizer, Cédric J. Van Meerbeeck, and Walter E. Baethgen. 2018. Building a framework for process-oriented evaluation of Regional Climate Outlook Forums. Weather, Climate, and Society 10: 225- 239.

Gerlak, Andrea K. and Andrea Haefner. 2017. Riparianization of the Mekong River Commission. Water International 42(7): 893-902.

Gerlak, Andrea K. 2017. Regional Water Institutions and Participation in Water Governance: The Colorado River Delta as an Exception to the Rule? Journal of the Southwest 59(1-2): 184-203.

Gerlak, Andrea K., Tanya Heikkila, Sharon L. Smolinski, Dave Huitema, Derek Armitage. 2017. Learning our way out of environmental policy problems: a review of the scholarship. Policy Sciences 51(3): 335-371.

Megdal, Sharon B., Andrea K. Gerlak, Ling-Yee Huang, Nathaniel Delano, Robert G. Varady, and Jacob D. Petersen-Perlman. 2017. Innovative Approaches to Collaborative Groundwater Governance in the United States: Case Studies from Three High-growth Regions in the Sun Belt. Environmental Management 5: 718-735.

Guido, Zack, Val Rountree, Christina Greene, Andrea K. Gerlak, and Adrian Trotman. 2016. Connecting Climate Information Producers and Users: Boundary Organization, Knowledge Networks, and Information Brokers at Caribbean Climate Outlook Forums. Weather, Climate, and Society 8(3): 285-298.

Mukhtarov, Farhad, Andrea K. Gerlak, and Robin Pierce.  2016.  Away from Fossil-Fuels and Toward a Bioeconomy: Knowledge Versatility for Public Policy? Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy -(-) 1–19.

de Grenade, Rafael, Lily House Peters, Chris A. Scott, Bhutan Thapa, Megan Mills-Novoa, Andrea K. Gerlak, and K. Verbist. 2016. The nexus: reconsidering environmental security and adaptive capacity. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 21: 15-21.

Gerlak, Andrea K. and Farhad Mukhtarov. 2016. Many Faces of Security: Discursive Framing in Cross-border Natural Resource Governance in the Mekong River Commission.  Globalizations 6: 719-740.

Heikkila, Tanya and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2016.  Investigating Collaborative Processes Over Time: A 10-Year Study of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. The American Review of Public Administration 46(2): 180-200.

Schmeier, Susanne, Andrea K. Gerlak, and Sabine Blumstein. 2016. Clearing the muddy waters of shared watercourses governance: conceptualizing international River Basin Organizations. International Environmental Agreements 16(4): 597-619.

Armitage, D., de Loe, R.C., Morris, M., Edwards, T.W., Gerlak, A.K., Hall, R.I., Huitema, D., Ison, R., Livingstone, D., MacDonald, G., Mirumachi, N., Plummer, R., Wilfe, B.B. 2015.  Science-policy processes for transboundary water governance. Ambio 44(5): 353-66.

Baer, Madeline and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2015. Implementing the human right to water and sanitation: a study of global and local discourses. Third World Quarterly 36(8): 1527-1545.

Megdal, Sharon, Andrea K. Gerlak, Robert G. Varady, and Ling-Yee Huang. 2015.  Groundwater Governance in the United States: Common Priorities and Challenges.  Groundwater 53(5): 677–684.

Gerlak, Andrea K. and Farhad Mukhtarov. 2015. ‘Ways of Knowing’ Water: Integrated Water Resources Management and Water Security as Complementary Discourses. International Environmental Agreements: Politics Law and Economics 15(3): 257-272.

Schmeier, Susanne, Andrea K. Gerlak, and Sabine Blumstein. 2015.  Clearing the muddy waters of shared watercourses governance: conceptualizing international River Basin Organizations. International Environmental Agreements DOI 10.1007/s10784-015-9287-4.

Gerlak, Andrea K.  2015. Resistance and Reform: Transboundary Water Governance in the Colorado River Delta.  Review of Policy Research 32(1): 100-123. 

Gerlak, Andrea K. and Susanne Schmeier. 2014. Climate Change and Transboundary Waters: A Study of Discourse in the Mekong River Basin. The Journal of Environment and Development 23: 358-386.

Gerlak, Andrea K. 2014. Policy Interactions in Human–Landscape Systems. Environmental Management 53: 67-75. 

Heikkila, Tanya and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2013. Building a Conceptual Approach to Collective Learning: Lessons for Public Policy Scholars. Policy Studies Journal 41(3): 484-511.

Mukhtarov, Farhad and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2013. Epistemic forms of integrated water resources management: towards knowledge versatility. Policy Sciences 47: 101-120.

Mukhtarov, Farhad and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2013. River Basin Organizations
in the Global Water Discourse: An Exploration of Agency and Strategy. Global Governance 19: 307-326.

Heikkila, Tanya, Andrea K. Gerlak, Andrew Bell, and Susanne Schmeier.  2013.  Adaptation in a transboundary river basin: linking stressors and adaptive capacity within the Mekong River Commission.  Environmental Science and Policy 25: 73-82.

Gerlak, Andrea K., Francisco Zamora-Arroyo, and Hannah P. Kahler. 2013.  A Delta in Repair: Restoration, Binational Cooperation, and the Future of the Colorado River Delta. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development 55(3): 29-40.

Gerlak, Andrea K. and Margaret Wilder.  2012.  Exploring the Textured Landscape of Water Insecurity and the Human Right to Water. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development 54(2):  4-17.

Berado, Ramiro and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2012. Conflict and Cooperation along International Rivers:  Crafting a Model of Institutional Effectiveness. Global Environmental Politics 12(1): 101-120.

Gerlak, Andrea K. and Tanya Heikkila.  2011. Building a Theory of Learning in Collaboratives: Evidence from the Everglades Restoration Program. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 21(4): 619-644.




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Contact Information

Andrea K. Gerlak
Associate Professor
Telephone: 520-621-1842
Fax: 520-621-2889
Office: ENR2 S518


PhD, Political Science

Courses Taught

EVS 260: Introduction to Environmental Studies, Ideas and Institutions

GEOG 302: Introduction to Sustainable Development

GEOG 696G: International Environmental Policy and Governance