RSOI:Researching the Societal Benefits of Engineering With Nature® (EWN®) Projects (W912HZ-19-SOI-0037)



Chesapeake Watershed

 Project Title: Researching the Societal Benefits of Engineering With Nature® (EWN®) Projects. 

Responses to this Request for Statements of Interest (rSOI) will be used to identify potential investigators for studies to be sponsored by the US Army’s Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) to support EWN research and development that integrates social science techniques and approaches into a diverse number of EWN projects.  It is anticipated that 1 or 2 EWN project(s) will be completed each year for FY19, FY20 and FY21.  The estimated level of funding for FY19 is approximately $25,000.  Funding for two (2) additional years may be available for continuation of the effort, which would provide the potential total funding of $75,000 over three (3) years to (approximately $25,000 per year) the successful Recipient/Awardee.


Introduction:  EWN® is the intentional alignment of natural and engineering processes to efficiently and sustainably deliver economic, environmental and social benefits through collaborative processes.  In turn, sustainable development of water resources infrastructure is supported by solutions that beneficially integrate engineering and natural systems. With recent advances in the fields of engineering and ecology, there is an opportunity to combine these fields of practice into a single collaborative and cost-effective approach for infrastructure development and environmental management.

One of the opportunities that can be pursued through the use of EWN is the application of Natural and Nature-Based Features (NNBF).  These are landscape features that are used to provide engineering functions relevant to flood risk management while producing additional economic, environmental, and/or social benefits.  Examples of NNBF include beaches and dunes; vegetated environments such as maritime forests, salt marshes, freshwater wetlands and fluvial flood plains, and seagrass beds; coral and oyster reefs, barrier islands, among others. These features may occur naturally in landscapes or be engineered, constructed and/or restored to mimic natural conditions.  For more information, please visit:

The R&D stemming from this SOI may also offer additional insight with respect to: (1) maximizing engineering, environmental and human-use benefits attributed to NNBF; (2) identification and potential quantification of known and novel social benefits attributed to specific NNBF projects and/or combinations of NNBF and traditionally constructed, flood-risk reduction measures; (3) enumeration and/or prioritization of social benefits derived from NNBF projects; and (4) identification/use of innovative social science techniques/methods for engaging diverse communities, which are located in a variety of geographical settings, in order to educate stakeholders on the importance of integrating EWN practices and NNBF projects that support their overall strategies for resilience.

Public Benefit: The EWN initiative is working to expand opportunities for application of NNBF by supporting R&D, technology transfer, and stakeholder engagement. NNBF can be differentiated into two categories: natural features and nature-based features. Natural features (e.g. a reef) are comparatively “long-standing” in terms of age and created through the action of natural physical, biological and chemical processes over time. Whereas, nature-based features are created by human design, engineering and construction to mimic natural features that provide similar, if not identical, services (Bridges et al., 2015).

The public will benefit from the research from this SOI by the examination of how social science methods and approaches can increase public interaction with NNBF through including recreation, educational opportunities, and community resilience.

Requirements:  Successful applicants should have expert knowledge and work experience in social science and/or human health and well-being.  Specifically, the successful social science investigator(s)’ experience should include, but not be limited to, the following: knowledge of the USACE’s EWN® Initiative; community engagement/communications specific to flood risk and risk-reduction options; elucidation of community’s perceptions of the costs and benefits for implementing risk-reduction options; identification/quantification of ecosystem services and social benefits that are directly and/or indirectly attributed to NNBF and the natural environment; and an ability to apply social science research methodologies in support aquatic environments and community resilience.


The following objectives are required for a maximum of two (2) unique, stand-alone projects each year for FY19, FY20, and FY21 for a total of 6 projects.

Objective: Integrate social science methodologies into EWN projects that are currently investigating the function/utility of NNBF.  The successful investigator(s) will work with the US Army’s Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) researchers to harmonize research that integrates EWN techniques/practices and social science evaluations/analysis into the actual NNBF projects.  Moreover, such activities are anticipated to inform the approach to future NNBF projects.  If applicable, completely new and innovative approaches to social science and human dimensions analysis maybe integrated into the overall approach to community engagement and the associated pursuit of NNBF for the purpose of developing an overall flood risk reduction strategy.  Social Scientists would be expected to collaboratively develop their methods for engaging communities/stakeholders.  Results of the social science studies will be combined with the results of other NNBF monitoring data into reports and journal articles that are ultimately published in the peer-reviewed literature.

Government Participation:

ERDC researchers will work with the selected social scientist(s) to review/evaluate the best available information (e.g., raw data, drawings, project plans, surveys, meeting minutes, stakeholder comments, reports, etc.) for the different types of NNBF that are ultimately accepted for this investigation.  ERDC will also participate with the investigator(s) in the evaluation and analysis of EWN and social science approaches that are considered and ultimately integrated through (1) identification and potential quantification of known and novel social benefits attributed to specific NNBF projects and/or combinations of NNBF and traditionally constructed, flood-risk reduction measures; (2) enumeration and/or prioritization of social benefits for NNBF projects; and (3) analysis of outputs/feedback derived from the engagement of diverse communities and stakeholders.  The selected investigator(s) are expected to actively participate with ERDC researchers in the production of final reports and peer-reviewed journal articles that describe research outcomes.  If needed, ERDC researchers will also lead and facilitate coordination and meetings with stakeholders to obtain best available information and to disseminate results.


Materials Requested for Statement of Interest/Qualifications: Please provide the following via e-mail attachment to:

(Maximum length: 2 pages, single-spaced 12 pt. font):

  • Name, Organization and Contact Information
  • Brief Statement of Qualifications (including):
    • Biographical sketches,
    • Relevant past projects and clients with brief descriptions of these projects,
    • Staff, faculty or students available to work on this project and their areas of expertise,
    • Any brief description of capabilities to successfully complete the project you may wish to add (e.g. design equipment/software, computer laboratory space and associated capabilities, architecture studio facilities, etc.).

Note:  A proposed budget is NOT requested at this time.

Review of Received Statements of Interest:  Based on a review of the Statements of Interest received, an investigator or investigators will be invited to prepare a full study proposal.  Statements will be evaluated based on the investigator’s specific experience and capabilities in areas related to the study requirements.  Additionally, the evaluation method and selection criteria for research and development awards must be:  (1) The technical merits of the proposed research and development; and (2) Potential relationship of the proposed research and development to the public.

Please send responses or direct questions to:

U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC)
ERDC Contracting Office (ECO)
3909 Halls Ferry Road
Vicksburg, MS 39180

Timeline for Review of Statements of Interest:  Review of Statements of Interest will begin after the rSOI has been posted on the CESU website for 10 working days.

RSOI was posted on CHWA CESU website and emailed to partners on 8/7/2019. 

A PDF version of this RSOI is available here.