Summary of HiMAP CoP discussion

HiMAP group at Lake Palcacocha

The HiMAP Community of Practice discussion generated approximately 100 observations and/or suggestions. Here is my attempt to distill our thoughts down to a dozen of the major themes, emphasizing those that seemed to come up most frequently, whether it was in the conference room or while talking on the trail. Some of this synthesis is based on my interpretation, which might bias the list. Also, due to the nature of our small-groups discussions, each point does not necessarily represent a consensus of the CoP.

Please add your comments below or by sending me an email. Don’t be shy if your takeaway was different from mine or if you’d like to expand on any of these points—or suggest new ones. This is the dialogue that will make HiMAP sustainable and productive.

The points below are in not in any order of priority.

1) We’re an interdisciplinary group that unites the social sciences with the physical sciences. If anything, we’d like to embrace the social component even more, with more development practitioners in our group. Physical scientists should consider including  social scientists in their work from the outset, including initial field research.

2) We’d like to expand our educational outreach significantly. We need to develop programs that reach students of all ages, from village primary schools to international graduate schools. Beyond students, we need to communicate with and educate communities and the public at large.

3) We believe HiMAP is doing good work and should continue and grow. We need a clear vision statement that helps make this happen. Our mission might be defined as sustainable, science-based adaptation to changing mountain environments.

4) HiMAP membership should be open and inclusive. We should welcome diverse participation via an informal process, not create barriers to entry. We should also expand to include more mountain regions worldwide.

5) HiMAP should foster collaboration. We must build the tools and the process that helps us to work together on projects.

6) We provide unique opportunities for graduate students. Our grants and programs are at a scale that is suitable for graduate studies. Our intimate conferences and workshops are ideal for graduate students to share their work, to network, and to collaborate.

7) HiMAP workshops/conferences offer an ideal combination of formal and informal communication that takes place both in the conference room and in the field. The practical field workshops add considerable value to traditional conference-style presentations. Our multi-disciplinary international conferences allow us to learn from broad perspectives and backgrounds.

8) We already excel at working with communities and we should expand on this strength. Communities need to share in all research and when possible they should participate in the process.

9) We should work with decision makers at all levels to influence policy. Governance should be based on scientific understanding, which can best be achieved by communication and dialogue.

10) We should consider developing regional nodes for our group in addition to the broad international membership. This would foster increased local collaboration. But regional nodes should not come at the expense of international conferences, which expose us to diverse perspectives and people we would not otherwise meet.

11) Future conferences might focus on specific problems to solve. Worldwide talent and insight could explore local concerns and suggest practical solutions based on international knowledge.

12) We need to develop new sources of funding and collaborative ways of seeking funding. This includes a strong program of small grants (climber-scientist–style grants), which have been vital to our work to date.

Now, what do you think? Does this reflect your vision of the HiMAP Community of Practice, or where it should go? Please continue the discussion in the comments box or by emailing.


John Harlin

HiMAP CoP Moderator

jharlin at mountain dot org