Current Institutional Affiliation
Professor, Geography, Portland State University

 Heejun Chang is Professor of Geography at Portland State University (PSU). He holds a BA and an MA from the Seoul National University and obtained a PhD from the Pennsylvania State University. His research and teaching focus on water sustainability in a changing climate, land cover, and management. Dr. Chang has been leading transdisciplinary water research from a coupled natural and human system lens. He has collaborated with local watershed councils, municipalities, and a regional government in the Portland metropolitan area, in studying future climate change impacts on water quantity and quality and flood hazards using spatial statistics, social surveys, and process-based modeling. Dr. Chang is a faculty fellow of Institute for Sustainable Solutions at PSU. He has published 18 edited book chapters and over 113 peer-reviewed journal articles, and his work has been cited more than 5,000 times by google scholar with an H index of 41.

Award Information

Abe Fellowship 2018
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Professor, Geography, Portland State University
Coupled dynamics of human and flood risks in six cities across the Pacific

This research aims to show that cross-comparative insights about policies and regulations from understanding complex and critical flood management systems have influenced thinking and policy making in the field of urban flood management and stream restoration. This project is meaningful and valuable for our global society because this is the first step to analyze and explain flood risk mitigation policy trends and transition from a sociohydrologic angle. I seek to answer the following research questions (1) What biophysical and socio-demographic factors affect flood risk over time and space?; (2) How have flood management policies changed over time and how did they affect flood risk?; (3) What triggered the shift in flood risk management regime and what pathways are possible?. To answer these questions I will conduct field site visits in six cities across the Pacific, interviews, spatial analysis, and system dynamic modeling in collaboration with researchers in Japan, South Korea and USA. My proposed research is highly policy relevant as it (1) directly reviews flood policy documents and make suggestions for possible changes for reducing flood risks in the future, (2) addresses social equity issues as they relate to flood risks of different social groups, and (3) engages diverse stakeholders for inclusions. The cases are drawn from six case cities across the Pacific that have experienced floods but different institutional arrangements with different sociopolitical contexts to deal with urban floods. Thus, findings of this proposed work would offer new cross comparative insights to tackle urban floods. Fundamentally, my research reaffirms the importance of global collaboration and the collective contribution of academic researchers, civil administrators, and the individual participants of interest groups in fostering active communication for creating flood resilient cities. My proposed work and interests match the Abe Fellowship Program research agenda in several ways. First, urban flood is a global threat, affecting many lives across personal, societal, and international scales. The first step is to understand what may have caused increasing flood risks in different places. My study will inform what biophysical and sociodemographic factors are associated with changing flood risks over space and time. Second, with continuous urban development and projected increases in extreme events with climate change, we urgently need to understand and project how flood risks have shifted and will shift in the future. My proposed study will show the interaction between extreme events and flood risks and thus inform how cities can better prepare for climate adaptation. Third, flood risks are not equally distributed over different social groups between cities and even within a city. A spatially explicit flood risk analysis will show which population groups are more vulnerable to floods and how cities could address social equity in flood risk mitigation, potentially contributing to social transformation. Fourth, my research will engage various stakeholders to better understand the dynamics of human and flood interactions. Understanding the power dynamics in flood policy shift will contribute to participatory governance, lead to the empowerment of other stakeholders that have traditionally been left out in decision-making process.