Ryan Plummer

Ryan Plummer

Director, ESRC, Brock University
Senior Research Fellow, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University
Adjunct Professor, Sustainability Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast
Adjunct Faculty, Department of Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo

E-mail: rplummer@brocku.ca
Office: MC C-423
Phone: +1-905-688-5550 x.4782


PhD, University of Guelph (Rural Studies)
MA, University of New Brunswick (Sport and Recreation Administration)
BOR (Hons), Lakehead University (Outdoor Recreation)
BA, Lakehead University (History)

About Ryan:

Ryan’s multi-faceted program of research broadly concerns the governance of social-ecological systems. In striving to advance knowledge of collaboration and adaptation within complex systems, he has focused on the exploring their theoretical underpinnings and ethical implications, modeling their processes, examining the roles of social capital, and investigating the influences of social learning. Water resources are the context in which his research mainly occurs and he is a Faculty Investigator in the Water Policy and Governance Group.

Findings from his research have been published in leading international journals such as Ecological Economics, Ecology and Society, Environmental Management, Frontiers in Ecology and Society, Global Environmental Change, Journal of Environmental Management, Society and Natural Resources and the UN journal, Natural Resources Forum. In addition, he is the author of Outdoor Recreation (Routledge, 2010), and co-editor of Adaptive Capacity and the Making of Environmental Governance (with D. Armitage, Springer, 2010) and Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems: the Role of Learning and Education (with M.E. Krasny and C. Lundholm, Routledge, 2011). He serves as a Subject Editor for Ecology and Society.

The scholarly quality of his research program was formally recognized in 2008 with the awarding of a Chancellor’s Chair for Research Excellence. In 2004 he received the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences Award for Teaching Excellence and in 2008 he was selected as one of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) Excellence in Education Award winners for Promotion of Sustainable Practices.

Research Interests:

  • novel governance strategies and social – ecological systems
  • adaptive co-management
  • adaptation and adaptive capacity
  • community-based natural resource management
  • integrated resource management
  • social capital and social learning
  • resilience and vulnerability

How does your research relate to sustainability/ESRC?

Uncertainty, complexity and conflict characterize contemporary environmental challenges. Social-ecological systems emphasize an integrative perspective as human and biophysical systems are connected or linked. How society steers towards sustainable trajectories is a critical question. The sustainability science orientation of ESRC provides an ideal lens to study social-ecological systems and innovative forms of environment governance.

In Press

von der Porten, S., de Loë, R.C., and Plummer, R. (in press). Collaborative environmental governance and Indigenous peoples: Recommendations for Practice. Journal of Environmental Practice.

Baird, J., Plummer, R., Dupont, D. (in press). Can context help to understand the perceptions of water quality in First Nation communities? Nature and Culture.


Plummer, R., Baird, J., Moore, M-L., Brandes, O., Imhof, J., and Krievins, K. (2015). Governance of aquatic systems: What attributes and practices promote resilience? International Journal of Water Governance, 4:1-18.

Armitage, D., de Loë, R.C., Morris, M., Edwards, T.W.D., Gerlak, A.K., Hall, R.I., Huitema, D., Ison, R., Livingstone, D., MacDonald, G., Mirumachi, N., Plummer, R., and Wolfe, B.B. (2015). Science-policy processes for transboundary water governance. AMBIO, online.

Pickering, K., Plummer, R., Shaw, T., and Pickering, G. (2015). Assessing the adaptive capacity of the Ontario wine industry for cliamte change adaptation. International Journal of Wine Research, 6: 13-27.


Plummer, R., Baird, J., Moore, M-L., Brandes, O., Imhof, J. and Krievins, K. (2014). Governance of aquatic systems: What characterizes resilience? International Journal of Water Governance, 2(4), 1-18. DOI: 10.7564/14-IJWG51

Baird, J., Plummer, R., Huitema, D. & Haug, C. (2014). Learning effects of interactive decisions making processes for climate change adaptation. Global Environmental Change, 27, 51-63. DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2014.04.019

Dupont, D., Waldner, C., Bharadwaj, L., Plummer, R., Carter, B., Cave, K. & Zagozewski, R. (2014). Drinking water management: Health risk perceptions and choices in First Nations and non-first nations communities in Canada. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 11(6) 5889-5903. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph110605889

Baird, J. Plummer, R., Purdy, Krievins, K., S. Mitchell, S. & Rathwell, K. (2014). Enhancing source water protection and watershed management: Lessons from the case of the New Brunswick Water Classification Initiative. Canadian Water Resources Journal / Revue canadienne des resources hydriques, 39(1), 49-62. DOI: 10.1080/07011784.2013.872872

Moore, M-L., von der Porten, S., Plummer, R., Brandes, O., and J. Baird. (2014). Water policy reform and innovation: A systematic review.Environmental Science and Policy, 38, 263-271. DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2014.01.007

Keskitalo, E.C.H., Baird, J., Ambjörnsson, E.L. & Plummer, R. (2014). Social network analysis of multi-level linkages: a Swedish case study on northern forests-based sectors. AMBIO. [published online] DOI: 10.1007/s13280-014-0492-0

Baird, J., Velaniškis, J., Plummer, R. and FitzGibbon, J. (2014). Political legitimacy and collaborative water governance: An exploratory case study. International Journal of Water Governance, 2(1), 61-84.

Van Tol, E., de Loë, R.C., and Plummer, R. (2014). Knowledge engagement in collaborative environmental governance. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. [published online] DOI: 10.1080/09640568.2013.860017

Baird, J., Plummer, R. & Pickering, K. (2014). Priming the governance system for climate change adaptation: the application of a Social Ecological Inventory to engage actors in Niagara, Canada. Ecology and Society, 19 (1): 3 [online].

Plummer, R., Schultz, L., Armitage, D., Bodin, Ö., Crona, B., Baird, J. (2014). Developing a Diagnostic Approach for Adaptive Co-management and Considering its Implementation in Biosphere Reserves. Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics Working Paper Series No. 245.

Krievins, K., Plummer, R. & Baird, J. (2014). Resilience: An annotated bibliography. In Environmental Sustainability Research Centre Working Paper Series 2014-001.


Plummer, R. (2013). Can adaptive co-management help to address the challenges of climate change adaptation? Ecology and Society, 18(4) [online].

Plummer, R., deGrosbois, D., Armitage, D. & de Loë, R. (2013). An Integrative Assessment of Water Vulnerability in First Nation Communities in Southern Ontario, Canada. Global Environmental Change, 23(4), 749-763.

Plummer, R., Armitage, D. & de Loë, R. (2013). Adaptive co-management and its relationship to environmental governance. Ecology and Society, 18(1):21[online].

Baird, J., Plummer, R. & Summers, R. (2013). Cisterns and safe drinking water in Canada. Canadian Water Resources Journal, 38(2), 121-134.

Cave, K., Plummer, R. & de Loë, R. (2013). Exploring water governance and management in Oneida Nation of the Thames: An application of the institutional analysis development framework. Indigenous Policy Journal (Special Issue: Exploring the Governance Landscape of Indigenous People and Water in Canada), 23(4), [online].

Baird, J. Carter, B., Cave, K., Dupont, D., General, P., King, C. & Plummer, R. (2013). Local perspectives on water quality and governance: The value of surveys to First Nation communities. Indigenous Policy Journal (Special Issue: Exploring the Governance Landscape of Indigenous People and Water in Canada), 23(4), [online].

Plummer, R. & Baird, J. (2013). Adaptive co-management for climate change adaptation: Considerations for the Barents Region. Sustainability, 5, 629-642.

Plummer, R., Baird, J., Moore, M-L., Brandes, O.M., & Krievins, K. (2013). Resilience: a brief introduction from a watershed perspective. Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Brock University. In Watersheds 2014 Readings and Research Package.

Baird, J. & Plummer, R. (2013). Exploring the governance landscape of Indigenous peoples and water in Canada – an introduction to the special issue. Indigenous Policy Journal (Special Issue: Exploring the Governance Landscape of Indigenous People and Water in Canada), 23(4), [online].

Plummer, R., Dupont, D., Renzetti, S., Baird, J., Bullock, R., Krievins, K., & Purdy, S. (2013). Ecological Components of Ecosystems. CADWAGO (Climate Change Adaptation and Water Governance). Available at: http://www.cadwago.net/

Plummer, R., Moore, M-L., Baird, J., Brandes, O.M., & Krievins, K. (2013).Resiliance Analysis Workshop Summary. POLIS Water Sustainability Project.

Dupont, D., Renzetti, S., Plummer, R., Heinmiller, T., & Baird, J. (2013). Liquid Assets: Assessing Water’s Contribution to Niagara. Niagara Region, Thorold, Ontario.


Plummer, R., de Loë, R. & Armitage, D. (2012). A systematic review of water vulnerability assessment tools. Water Resources Management, 26(15), 4327-4346. DOI: 10.1007/s11269-012-0147-5.

Plummer, R., Crona, B., Armitage, D., Olsson, P., Tengö, M., & Yudina, O. (2012). Adaptive co-management: A systematic review and analysis. Ecology and Society, 17(3), 11 [online].

Plummer, R., Stone-Jovicich, & Bohensky, E. (2012). Adaptive co-management: A new frontier for nature-based tourism. In A. Holden & D. A. Fennell (Eds.). The Routledge Handbook of Tourism and the Environment (pp.541-555). Abingdon, UK:  Routledge.

Armitage, D., de Loë, R. & Plummer, R. (2012). Environmental governance and its implications for conservation practice. Conservation Letters, 5(4), 245-255.

Larsen, R. K., Swartling, Å. G., Powell, N., May, B., Plummer, R., Simonsson, L., & Osbeck, M. (2012). A framework for facilitating dialogue between policy planners and local climate change adaptation professionals: Cases from Sweden, Canada and Indonesia. Environmental Science & Policy, 23, 12-23.


Krasny, M., Lundholm, C. & Plummer, R. (Eds.). (2011). Resilience in social-ecological systems: The role of learning and education.  Abingdon, UK:  Routledge.

Plummer, R. & Hashimoto, A. (2011). Adaptive co-management and the need for situated thinking in collaborative conservation.  Human Dimensions of Wildlife Management (Special Issue, Developing Adaptability: The Promise and Pitfalls of Collaborative Conservation), 16(4): 222-235.

Cave, K., General, P., Johnston, J., May, B., McGregor, D., Plummer, R., Wilson, P. (2011). The power of participatory dialogue: Why talking about climate change matters. Indigenous Policy Journal, 22(13).

Plummer, R., de Grosbois, D., Velaniskis, J., & de Loë, R. (2011).  Probing the integration of land use and watershed planning in a shifting governance regime. Water Resources Research, 47, W09502, doi:10.1029/2010WR010213.

May, B. & Plummer, R. (2011). Accommodating the challenges of climate change adaptation and governance in conventional risk management: Adaptive collaborative risk management (ACRM). Ecology and Society, 16(1), 47 [online].

Kreutzwiser, R., de Loë, R., Imgrund, K., Conboy, M.J., Simpson, H. & Plummer, R. (2011). Understanding stewardship behavior: Factors facilitating and constraining private water well stewardship. Journal of Environmental Management, 92(4), 1104-1114.

Schultz, L., Plummer, R. & Purdy, S. (2011). Applying a Social-Ecological Inventory: A Workbook for Finding the Key Actors and Engaging Them. Available online from the Resilience Alliance.

Å. Swartling, C. Lundholm, R. Plummer & D. Armitage. (2011). Social Learning and Sustainability: Exploring Critical Issues in Relation to Environmental Change and Governance. Workshop proceedings, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm, Sweden, June 1-2. Stockholm Environmental Institute.


Plummer, R., Kulczycki, C., FitzGibbon, J., Velaniskis, J. & Luck M. (2010). Exploring the implications of successful fisheries management in southern Ontario, Canada: A decade of experience with the upper Grand River tail-water fishery.  Journal of Rural and Community Development (Special Issue on Rural Recreation and Tourism in Canada), 5(1/2), 128-149.

Lundholm, C. & Plummer, R.  (2010). Resilience and learning: A conspectus for environmental education.  Environmental Education Research, 16(5-6), 475-492.

Plummer, R. & Armitage, D. (2010). Integrating perspectives on adaptive capacity and environmental governance. In D. Armitage and R. Plummer (Eds.). Adaptive Capacity and Environmental Governance (pp. 1-19). Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.

de Loë, R. & Plummer, R. (2010).  Climate change, adaptive capacity and drinking water governance in Canada.  In D. Armitage and R. Plummer (Eds.).Adaptive Capacity and Environmental Governance (pp. 157-178). Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.

Fennell, D. & Plummer R. (2010). Sociobiology and adaptive capacity: Evolving adaptive strategies to build environmental governance. In D. Armitage and R. Plummer (Eds.). Adaptive Capacity and Environmental Governance (pp. 243-261). Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.

Armitage, D. & Plummer, R. (2010).  Adapting and transforming: Governance for navigating change.  In D. Armitage and R. Plummer (Eds.). Adaptive Capacity and Environmental Governance, (pp.287-302). Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.

Plummer, R. (2010). Social-ecological resilience and environmental education: Synopsis, application, implications. Environmental Education Research, 16(5-6), 493-510.

Armitage, D. & Plummer, R. (Eds.). (2010).  Adaptive Capacity and Environmental Governance. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.

Krasny, M., Lundholm, C. & Plummer, R. (2010). Environmental education, resilience, and learning: Reflection and moving forward.  Environmental Education Research, 16(5-6) 665-672.

Plummer, R., Velaniskis, J., de Grosbois, D. Kreutzwiser, R. & de Loë, R. (2010). The development of new environmental policies and processes in response to a crisis: The case of the multiple barrier approach for safe drinking water.  Environmental Science and Policy, 13, 535-548.

Gafarova, S., May, B., & Plummer, R. (2010). Adaptive Collaborative Risk Management and Climate Change in the Niagara Region: A Participatory Integrated Assessment Approach for Sustainable Solutions and Transformative Change.  Adaptation and Impacts Research Section, Environment Canada.  Toronto, ON.

Armitage, D. & R. Plummer. (2010). Adaptation, Learning and Transformation in Theory and Practice: A State-of-the-Art Literature Review and Strategy for Application in the Niagara Region. Final Report. Prepared for Adaptation and Impacts Research Section – Environment Canada. Toronto, ON.

Krasny, M. Lundholm, C. & Plummer, R. (2010). Resilience in social-ecological systems: The roles of learning and education. Why should environmental education care about resilience in social-ecological systems?  Environmental Education Research, 16(5-6), 463-474.