Policy Learning and Capacity Development in the Czech Republic:
Field Research and Graduate Training Program, 2003-2005

Reports and Papers


To sustain and effectively implement environmental policy, it is necessary for nations to have the political, institutional, and social capacity to learn from experience and use this information to guide change. Floods are an ongoing problem throughout Europe. Therefore, using responses to the Czech floods of 2002, this research examines the following questions:

  Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic
Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic.
Photo: Matthew Amengual

  1. How did the floods alter the role of experts and the use of expert knowledge in environmental, land use, and disaster management?
  2. In what ways have the relationships and communication patterns between different government agencies as well as between government agencies and nongovernmental organizations changed as a result of the floods?
  3. How have the floods transformed the roles played by different interest groups in environmental and disaster policy, planning, and management?
  4. In what ways have the technical and cost-benefit assessments of assets changed as a result of the floods?
  5. What factors explain differences in the changes taking place in municipalities as a consequence of the floods and to what extent do these transitions reflect learning and capacity development?

The Czech floods of 2002 represent a period of time when governance systems were under stress to react to extraordinary problems. Since responses to these types of events tend to be characterized by relatively rapid change, the floods afford an opportunity to evaluate learning responses in a reasonably short time span. This international collaborative research and training program was
initiated in Summer 2003 when Czech and U.S. team members attended
seminars and conducted interviews in Prague and in six case study towns
in North and South Bohemia. The team met in Cambridge, Massachusetts in January 2004 to work on data analysis and preliminary planning for the second phase of the research which took place in Prague in Spring 2004. Team members gathered a final time in the U.S. in Spring 2005 to share their analyses and discuss the implications of the results.

Sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Czech Ministry of Youth, Education & Sport