Dr. Todd Schenk

School of Public and International Affairs

Dr. Todd Schenk is an Assistant Professor in the Urban Affairs and Planning Program of the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech. He has extensive research and consulting experience working on environmental policy and planning, and collaborative governance issues in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Dr. Schenk received both a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Planning and a Master in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from the University of Guelph. He served as the Assistant Director of the MIT Science Impact Collaborative, and held a research fellowship with the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. Dr. Schenk has also held positions with the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe and the Consensus Building Institute.


Dr. Schenk’s current work falls into three overlapping areas:

1) Collaborative governance, particularly in situations with high degrees of uncertainty, complexity and institutional ambiguity. He is co-editor of a forthcoming volume on joint fact-finding, which is an approach that aims to move beyond ‘adversarial science’ by engaging stakeholders to collectively identify their information needs, partner with experts to develop and implement research agendas, and collectively receive and consider the results and their implications on policy-making and planning.

2) Climate change adaptation, particularly as a governance challenge. Dr. Schenk is currently writing a book on ‘institutionalizing uncertainty’, which examines how infrastructure managers and other stakeholders can prepare for uncertain climate futures. It considers various tools and approaches, including the use of multiple scenarios.

3) Serious games as a tool for action research. Much of Dr. Schenk’s work uses role-play simulation exercises to engage stakeholders in the collective exploration of their challenges and consideration of their options.

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Recent Relevant Publications

Schenk, T. (forthcoming). Adapting Infrastructure to Climate Change: Advancing decision-making under conditions of uncertainty and complexity. London, UK: Routledge.

Matsuura, M. and T. Schenk, Eds. (forthcoming). Joint Fact Finding in Urban Planning and Environmental Disputes. London, UK: Routledge.

Schenk, T., E. Czaika, D. Rumore and M. Russo (forthcoming). Joint Fact-Finding: A tool for scientifically and technically-intensive interactive governance. Critical Reflections on Interactive Governance. L. Edelenbos and I. van Meerkerk, Eds. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Eriksen, C., V. Sword-Daniels, E.E.H. Doyle, R. Alaniz, C. Adler, T. Schenk and S. Vallance (forthcoming). Embodied Uncertainty: Living with Complexity and Natural Hazards. Journal of Risk Research.

Shi, L., E. Chu, I. Anguelovski, A. Aylett, J. Debats, K. Goh, T. Schenk, K.C. Seto, D. Dodman, D. Roberts, J.T. Roberts and S.D. VanDeveer (2016). Roadmap towards justice in urban climate adaptation research. Nature Climate Change, 6: 131–137.

Schenk, T., R.A.L. Vogel, N. Maas and L. Tavasszy (2016). Joint Fact-Finding in Practice: Review of a Collaborative Approach to Climate-Ready Infrastructure in Rotterdam. European Journal of Transport and Infrastructure Research, 16(1): 273-293.

Susskind, L. and T. Schenk (2014). Can Games Really Change the Course of History? Négociations, 2/22: 29-39.

Schenk, T. and L. Susskind (2014). Gaming for Action: Role-Play Simulation Exercises for Participatory Action Research on Climate Change Adaptation. Action Research for Adaptation Practices: Developing and applying knowledge for governance. A. van Buuren, J Eshuis and M. van Vliet, Eds. London, UK: Routledge.

World Social Science Fellows on Risk Interpretation and Action (2014). Reporting on the Seminar – Risk Interpretation and Action (RIA): Decision Making Under Conditions of Uncertainty. Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies, 18 (1), pp. 27-37.

Schenk, T. (2014). Boats and Bridges in the Sandbox: Using Role Play Simulation Exercises to Help Infrastructure Planners Prepare for the Risks and Uncertainties Associated With Climate Change. Infranomics: Sustainability, Engineering Design and Governance. A.V. Gheorghe, M. Masera and P.F. Katina, eds. Berlin, Germany: Springer.

Schenk, T. and L.C. Stokes (2013). The Power of Collaboration. IEEE Power & Energy, May/June: 56-65.

Bollinger, L.A., C.W.J. Bogmans, E.J.L. Chappin, G.P.J. Dijkema, J.N. Huibregtse, N. Maas, T. Schenk, M. Snelder, P. van Thienen, S. de Wit, B. Wols and L.A. Tavasszy (2013). Climate Adaptation of Interconnected Infrastructures: A Framework for Supporting Governance. Regional Environmental Change, 13(1); DOI: 10.1007/s10113-013-0428-4.

Schenk, T. and O. Ferguson (2012). Coastal States’ Climate Adaptation Initiatives: Sea Level Rise and Municipal Engagement. Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Working Paper, WP12TS1.

Susskind, L., A. Camacho and T. Schenk (2011). A Critical Assessment of Collaborative Adaptive Management in Practice. Journal of Applied Ecology, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2011.02070.x.

Susskind, L., A. Camacho and T. Schenk (2010). Collaborative Planning and Adaptive Management in Glen Canyon: A Cautionary Tale. Columbia Journal of Environmental Law, vol. 35, vo. 1.