First IAI Summer Institute on Interdisciplinary Science in the Americas
"Interactions between Seasonal to Inter-annual
Climate Variability and Human Systems"
Miami, Florida, USA, July 11-30, 1999


To promote effective communication and collaboration between early-career natural and social scientists from the Americas, the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) and the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (UM-RSMAS) have joined efforts to implement a Summer Institute on Interdisciplinary Global Change Science in the Americas. The IAI/UM Summer Institute is a 3-year venture with support from the United States' National Science Foundation.

Each year, the Summer Institute will be organized around a regionally important global change issue with societal relevance. The Institute's theme will be approached from a multi-disciplinary perspective, including both the natural and social dimensions. The chosen theme will serve as the central focus for various Institute's activities (lectures, research mini-projects). General background on the Institute's design and a detailed list of Institute objectives can be found at


The first IAI/UM Summer Institute will be held in Miami, Florida, USA, between July 11 and 30, 1999. The theme selected this year is "Interactions between Seasonal to Inter-annual Climate Variability and Human Systems." This Institute will explore links between climate variability associated mainly with the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon and important socioeconomic sectors (e.g., agriculture, water resources). In particular, the Institute will explore the implications of the emerging capability to forecast the occurrence on ENSO events with lead time of several months, and the feasibility of incorporating this information into decision-making or policy-making processes.

Preliminary Institute Program

A tentative program for the first Summer Institute includes the following sub-themes:

Institute Activities

The Institute will involve formal lectures and hands-on research projects to be completed by participants. The Institute's theme will serve as the central focus for most activities. Background lectures by Institute Leaders will introduce participants from diverse disciplines to the various dimensions of the Institute's theme. Several guest lecturers will provide information about some of the sub-themes listed in the preliminary Institute Program. Guest lecturers will be world-class scientists with recognized expertise.

A fundamental component of the Institute's activities will be hands-on research mini-projects to be completed by participants during the Institute. The mini-projects will emphasize the need for multi-disciplinary, multi-national collaboration when dealing with global change problems with multiple natural and social dimensions. Two mini-projects are currently envisioned, focused on agriculture and water resources, respectively. Time will be allocated to other activities, to be defined and led by the participants themselves.

Institute Leaders and Lecturers

Two experienced scientists with complementary backgrounds will lead the first Summer Institute. Dr. Diana Liverman, Director of the Latin American Studies program at the University of Arizona, USA, will coordinate the social science component. Dr. Liverman's research interests focus on the social causes and consequences of environmental change, especially in Latin America. Dr. Alice Grimm, from the Federal University of Parana, Brazil, and currently a visiting scientist at the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI) will lead the natural sciences component. Dr. Grimm has performed much research on the ENSO signature in South American climate. Brief biographies and a short list of publications for both Institute Leaders can be found at Recognized experts on interannual climate variability and its effects on human systems will present a series of guest lectures.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

Applicants must have academic and/or professional background in disciplines relevant to the Institute's theme. Minimum academic qualifications include a 4-year university degree in a relevant discipline. Fields of study appropriate for Institute applicants include, but are not limited to: climatology, climate modeling, oceanography, hydrology and water resources, agronomy, agro-climatology, geography, ecology, statistics, resource economics, environmental policy, environmental legislation, energy studies, political science, and risk analysis.

Participants must be affiliated with a research, educational, or resource management institution, governmental or not, in an IAI Ratified Member Country (although they may be temporarily in another institution, for example as graduate students). Currently the IAI Ratified Member Countries include: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, The United States of America, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Preference will be given to applicants in the early stages of their careers (within 8 years of graduation). Mid-career scientists and advanced graduate students also are encouraged to apply. Preferably, applicants must either be actively involved in scientific research or in management positions involving use of scientific information. Applicants involved in activities related to the Institute's theme, particularly as part of ongoing or future IAI-sponsored projects, will have a better opportunity of being selected. Applicants with purely administrative posts are unlikely to be selected.

Applicants need to have sufficient command of English (the official language of the Institute) not only to understand lectures and assigned reading material, but also to participate actively in discussions and group activities. Any documents that demonstrate English language skills should be attached to the application (e.g., Diplomas or Certificates of English proficiency, Test of English as a Foreign Language, TOEFL, scores).

If selected, participants who are not citizens or legal residents of the United States must be able to fulfill conditions necessary to obtain a visa to enter the United States.

Institute participants will be selected on the basis of: (a) academic and/or professional record, (b) demonstrated motivation, interest, and qualification to pursue multidisciplinary research, (c) conceptual clarity of the application essay, (d) relevance of the Institute's theme to the applicant's current research or professional activities, (e) participation in ongoing or future IAI-sponsored research, and (f) letters of recommendation. Selected participants must commit to exclusive dedication to the Summer Institute activities during the three-week period between July 11 and July 30, 1999.

Financial Support

Applicants selected for Institute participation will receive round-trip airfare between the airport closest to their home institution and Miami. Housing will be provided for participants at the University of Miami (UM) in Coral Gables, Florida, for the period July 10-31, 1999. Alternate or longer accommodations cannot be supported. Participants will receive a stipend to cover meal expenses (in some cases, meals will be provided by the Institute). Daily travel will be provided between Coral Gables and UM's Rosenstiel School, where Institute activities will take place. The Institute will cover health insurance, which is required by U.S. immigration regulations. Participants or their home institutions must cover all other expenses.

How to Apply

The application process will involve two steps. The first step is to gather and mail the requested application materials to the Institute Organizers (see instructions below). The second step involves filling out an electronic registration form at the Institute's WWW site. This step will allow Institute organizers to monitor applications and confirm that all mailed documentation is received.

1. Mailing application materials

All documentation, except university transcripts, must be submitted in ENGLISH.

Applications should be sent to:

IAI/UM Summer Institute
c/o Guillermo Podesta
Univ. of Miami RSMAS/MPO
4600 Rickenbacker Causeway
Miami FL 33149-1098, USA

2. Electronic registration (optional)

After mailing the application materials to the Institute Organizers, participants are strongly encouraged to fill out an electronic registration form through the Institute's WWW site ( This step will allow Institute organizers to confirm that all mailed applications have been received. Participants without access to the WWW may request a hard copy of the electronic registration form by sending e-mail ( or a FAX (1.305.361.4622) to the Institute Science Coordinator.

We recommend that application materials be sent via a courier service (e.g., Federal Express or DHL). In this case, applicants should write down the airbill number when sending the package. This number can be included in the electronic registration form so that an application can be traced if it is lost.

The electronic registration step is optional, but strongly recommended. All mailed applications will be considered even if no corresponding electronic registration has been received.