April 2021

Meet William Blomquist


Professor William Blomquist is an IUPUI School of Liberal Arts faculty member within the Department of Political Science. He teaches American politics, constitutional law, public policy, and research methodology. He is the associate editor of the Water Resource Research Journal and a member of the Policy Studies Journal editorial board.

Professor Blomquist has collaborated with local governments, state and federal agencies, and nongovernmental organizations in the United States and elsewhere on decisions about how to organize policy making and implementation in water resource management, how to allocate water resources among competing uses, and how to involve multiple stakeholders and communities in those processes. He has led workshops and provided consultation for government agencies and nongovernmental organizations, and conducted collaborative research with local governments and nongovernmental organizations.

My goal is to aid in understanding how we make decisions about our water resources and how we can do that better, based on studies of past and current efforts.

Professor William Blomquist

Research Photos

Professor Blomquist at the 2019 Water Summit Policymakers' Panel
Professor Blomquist at the 2018 GSA Summit

Q and A with Professor Blomquist

I was introduced to the topic of water resources management and policy by Professor Elinor Ostrom at IU-Bloomington when I was assigned to be her research assistant. I ended up making a comparative case study of groundwater management institutions into my dissertation, and have continued my interest in water management and policy ever since. 

Most natural resource problems are ultimately human problems – matters of human social behavior and choice. The structures and processes of decision making that we use in trying to deal with those problems are therefore very important. My goal is to aid in understanding how we make decisions about our water resources and how we can do that better, based on studies of past and current efforts. 

Locally, about six years ago I joined the board of the White River Alliance, a wonderful Indianapolis-based nonprofit organization that promotes public and policymakers’ attention to our water resources in Central Indiana. With my research background, one of my principal contributions to the Alliance’s work is to help organize and launch our annual Indiana Water Summit series to convene the general public, state and local policymakers, and water resource professionals for informative discussions of our water resources and how we can better protect them.

Beyond Indiana, I have been working with a broad group of individuals and organizations on the water resource and related challenges in California’s San Joaquin Valley, which is not only an important community in its own right but also the source of a significant portion of the food eaten by people throughout the U.S. I have been helping convene a broadly representative collaboration among stakeholders throughout the Valley. Also, six years ago California enacted a new state law requiring local governments to create groundwater agencies to manage groundwater supplies in areas of the state where there are serious problems. Along with several colleagues I have spent the last five years studying how those new local agencies have been created and organized, with the intent of learning more lessons about inter-local collaboration that can be used by policymakers and practitioners in the future in California and elsewhere. 

Listening to people who are trying to work through problems of resource allocation and protection, focusing on the ways in which they are thinking and communicating with one another about the problems they are trying to solve and, to whatever extent I can, helping them think about those matters in terms of governance and decision making and institutional design. 

Most of the students I have worked with on research have been at other campuses and universities. This is partly because we have not had a graduate program in political science at IUPUI for most of the time I have been here, but also because water resources have been a more prominent focus in other locations. I’ve worked with undergraduate and (mostly) graduate students at other universities who have been supervised by fellow scholars I’ve collaborated with. 

Directly through the White River Alliance and our Indiana Water Summits and other programs, it’s a few hundred. In California with the San Joaquin Valley effort, that’s still building but probably around 40-50. 

I’m retiring from the university at the end of May. I don’t know yet how I will remain involved with the White River Alliance and the San Joaquin Valley Collaborative Action Project. Those sorts of things will depend on what kinds of opportunities come my way after May. 

 Conversation with Professor Blomquist

On Friday, April 23, 2021 from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. Professor Blomquist presented his translational research. He gave a virtual presentation about his work on "Being Smart and Lucky: Why Water Policy Is Important Even in a Wet State."