Collaborative Institute for Oceans, Climate, and Security

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the relationship between oceans, climate, and security?
What skill set does the Collaborative Institute bring to the issues of oceans, climate, and security?
Who is involved in the Collaborative Institute?
Is there a specific geographic focus within the Institute?
What will make the Collaborative Institute successful?

What is the relationship between oceans, climate, and security?

The ocean covers 71% of the earth, is a major depository of excess carbon in earth's atmosphere, and supplies nearly 20 percent of average per capita intake of animal protein for more than 2.8 billion people, most from developing countries. These facts seem disparate, but in the face of global temperature rise, increased CO2 emissions, and over fishing, the chemistry of the ocean is rapidly becoming more acidic and biodiversity is declining. Additionally 53% of the United States' population lives along the coast, and the military relies on coastal naval bases around the globe to maintain national and international security.  As sea levels rise, communities are made vulnerable to encroaching water and more violent offshore storms. These are just a few examples of the ways in which coastal and marine ecosystem are intertwined with climate change and security concerns.

Understanding and assessing the impacts of climate change on oceans and their combined impacts on human security and thus national security, is not a new area of intellectual endeavor. Significant elements within the Department of Defense, the intelligence establishment, and related private sector institutions (such as the membership of the Alliance for Earth Observations) already appreciate these inter-relationships, are beginning to push a research agenda and are sounding the alarm. But this awareness has had a meaningful focus for less than ten years and is significantly limited to a handful of participants within the involved sectors of the military, intelligence, and related businesses. The Collaborative Institute for Oceans, Climate, and Security intends to build on this emerging awareness to design and implement broad convenings and advocacy, strategic science, and the thoughtful development of broad based communication and policy initiatives. CIOCS leadership sees the Institute as committed to expanding the conversation, exploring the notion of interactions, helping predict outcomes, and working to develop adaptation action plans for the most vulnerable populations.

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What skill set does the Collaborative Institute bring to the issues of oceans, climate, and security?

The Collaborative Institute, as a system wide initiative at UMass Boston, brings together the ocean policy and marine management experience of the McCormack Graduate School for Policy and Global Studies with the environmental expertise of the College of Science and Mathematics, while drawing from relationships in the scientific, marine, and defense industries. Crafted to bring multiple stakeholders to the table, the Collaborative Institute serves as a mechanism by which experts from seemingly disparate sectors can contribute skill sets that inform climate change and ocean science as they relate to human security concerns. To learn more about the technical skill sets within the Institute, view CIOCS' Collaborators page.

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Who is involved in the Collaborative Institute?

Housed at the University of Massachusetts Boston, the Collaborative Institute draws great strength from the work of faculty in the College of Science and Mathematics, the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, the College of Management, and Urban Harbors Institute. Particularly, the Department of Environmental, Earth, and Ocean Science, the Center for Coastal Environmental Sensing Networks, and the Center for Sustainable Enterprise and Regional Competitiveness have coalesced in dynamic ways under the Institute's collaborative framework. The Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies and several private contractors represent the Institute's connections outside of UMass Boston, and an expanding reach into the other UMass campuses and academic institutions strengthen CIOCS' reach. Furthermore, the Council of Advisors ensures that many industries are seated at the collaborative table, from grantmaking organizations, national security experts, and ocean and marine life advocates. The institute also has two full-time staff members, a steering committee, and multiple sub-committees who guide project development.

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Is there a specific geographic focus within the institute?

No, our work is not limited by geographic focus, although it is initially focusing on the “white water to blue water” (50 miles in land and out) coastal zone. Many of CIOCS' scientists, researchers, and policy experts are experienced in the New England region, although their work has application for local, regional, national, and international solutions to a myriad of oceans, climate and security issues. Currently the Collaborative Institute is seeking funding for both global and regional projects, through Assessing the Effects of Climate on Marine World Heritage and Ocean Acidification’s Impact on Gulf of Maine Fisheries: Policy, Management, and Communications based on Sound Science, respectively.

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What will make the Collaborative Institute successful?

While expertise in sound science and an understanding of policy formation is foundational to the Collaborative Institute's success, there are several other important factors that must be realized.

First, projects must be relevant, elucidating scientific data and social conditions that can be contextualized into "pressing needs" for the communities affected.

Secondly, the Collaborative Institute needs to identify and collaborate with receptive audiences to support (in word, deed, and donations) the projects deemed relevant-- projects such as assessing the viability of Marine World Heritage Sites in the face of climate change, and the impact of acidifying oceans on seafood.

Lastly, where such an audience does not exist, the Collaborative Institute must work with collaborating organizations to communicate the message and reinforce the need to address the linkages between oceans, climate, and security.

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Theory of Informed Action and Change

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CIOCS Brochure

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CIOCS Briefing Paper

Read or download our briefing paper, What Does CIOCS Bring to the Ongoing Conversation About Oceans, Climate, and Security? (PDF) Read More 

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