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The MARI Document proposes the establishment of a transdisciplinary Mitigation and Adaptation Reserach Institute (MARI) at ODU. This institute will produce the practice-relevant knowledge coastal communities in Hampton Roads and beyond need to cope with the unprecedented challenges posed by changing climate and rising sea levels as well as the threats of extreme weather events. Hampton Roads is experiencing one of the highest sea-level rise rates in the U.S. This implies that problems will occur earlier than in most other regions, and, therefore, solutions will have to be identified and implemented here earlier than elsewhere in the country. This proposal lays out why it is crucial to establish MARI, which would utilize the unique situation of Hampton Roads as a natural laboratory for climate change and sea level rise. Given the existence of an already partially engaged stakeholder community consisting of military, private sector, academic, local and regional government actors, MARI would be well-situated geographically to “jump start” practice-relevant research and actionable solutions. This document articulates both the strategies and tactics regarding how such an institute could be implemented at ODU, taking into account the limitations and challenges resulting from the disciplinary structure of colleges and institutions.

The vision of MARI is that of thriving coastal communities. In pursuit of this vision, MARI's mission is to engage in mitigation and adaptation research to provide the practice-relevant knowledge needed by coastal communities to handle the challenges, and utilize the opportunities, of climate change and sea level rise. MARI is based on the recognition that comprehensive knowledge is the basis for solutions, and that this knowledge can only be derived through interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration. The proposed governance structure takes into account that transdisciplinary entities need to be linked to the highest decision level at ODU and at the same time have a strong foundation in the existing colleges. This governance structure also seeks to set in place a dynamic collaborative decision-making process that will leverage appropriately the need for “top-down”, “bottom-up” and horizontal decision-making, collaboration and information flow. The research areas addressed by MARI include all aspects of mitigation of climate change and its impacts as well as adaptation to the changes that cannot be prevented with a view on sustainable development. The educational efforts of MARI will focus on transdisciplinary, problem-motivated courses, certificates, and degrees. Student engagement and leadership development are vital for the linkage between ODU and its societal environment. A comprehensive outreach program will ensure that stakeholders are involved in the co-creation of the knowledge they need and that that they have the capabilities to make use of this knowledge. To a large extent, the institute has to be driven by the knowledge needs of societal stakeholders not only in the region, but nationally and internationally. The stakeholder-guided nature and the complex challenges to be addressed by the practice-relevant research carried out or facilitated by MARI requires an agile internal organization that can rapidly respond to emerging knowledge needs. MARI will have an internal structure that is designed for problem and solution-oriented research. Importantly, the institute aims to be a source of new business opportunities and, in cooperation with the business world, help to generate jobs in the area of mitigation and adaptation.