Launched in 2008, the Athabasca River Basin Research Institute is an innovative interdisciplinary research centre that studies the Athabasca River Basin and its people from a broad range of perspectives. The basin is ecologically significant and rich in natural resources, including some of the world’s largest oil sands deposits. It also represents a tapestry of diverse cultures and has considerable historical importance. Industrial development and climate change are affecting both the environmental and human elements of the basin. Through research and knowledge transfer, the institute will help to identify gaps in knowledge, highlight research opportunities and enhance understanding of key issues. ARBRI ’s activities will inform academics, community members and decision-makers alike and support the development of sound policies that will benefit all who have a stake in the basin.
The Athabasca River Basin Research Institute’s research includes discipline-specific initiatives related to society, culture, the environment and other aspects of the Athabasca Basin. The Institute encourages and supports interdisciplinary collaboration. Research that bridges various disciplines allows researchers to address complex questions. Using a collaborative approach, ARBRI serves as a point of co-ordination for Athabasca University’s research activities and those of other institutions. ARBRI also fosters multidisciplinary relationships bridging academia, government, non-governmental organizations, industry and communities. Given the size and influence of the basin and the activities associated with it, these relationships will naturally extend beyond Alberta.
Athabasca River Basin stakeholders have the opportunity to articulate their opinions on basin issues and research through interaction with the Athabasca River Basin Research Institute. The integration of stakeholder priorities with scholarly research will ensure that key topics are included in ARBRI’s research agenda, allowing stakeholders to be engaged in research, exchanging information and building knowledge capacity. Together, the Institute and basin stakeholders will support the development of an improved understanding of the basin’s ecology and human populations. ARBRI strives to be a part of the solution by providing an unbiased conduit to research from a variety of perspectives and disciplines. It will be a place in which the diverse voices of the region can be heard in order to achieve a better understanding of the complex issues surrounding the basin.
The Athabasca River Basin Research Institute is working to become a leader in the distribution and transferring of knowledge in all aspects of the river basin. Research results, data, ideas and other information, presented in a variety of formats from hard copy to digital, can be exchanged through peer-reviewed publications, reports, web communities and forums, workshops, symposia, meetings and an extensive online searchable bibliography. Access to high quality information on diverse aspects of the basin is key to developing novel solutions to complex problems.