ENVS 295: Environmental Engagement
The goal of this project was to understand rural and urban priorities in regards to environmental management, as well as understand the areas of flexibility and conflict regarding differing environmental views. By the end of the project, these goals were achieved. However, it would have been more of a success to engage with those specifically part of the agricultural community.
My primary source of research was “Clumsy Solutions for a Complex World: The Case of Climate Change” (Marco Verweij et al. 2006). This was an important source due to its discussion of different opinions being presented and responded to. The second source I used was “Rural Environmental Attitudes” (Mark McBeth and Richard Foster 1994), which I found quite informative due to its discussion that a significant amount of rural residents believe environmentalists do not take their economic situations into account. The last source I used was "Wicked Environmental Problems” (Steve Rayner 2014). Using this source was vital to my project because it presented that problems are out of control, and it discussed society trying to deal with environmental problems that are out of our control with no explicit solutions.
By conducting a survey and distributing it to the Lewis and Clark community, I was able to discover how a wide range of students approach varying environmental issues. I had important results, as shown below:
- 0% opposed using more government money to develop wind and solar power
- 43% of the respondents believe urban environmentalists should be involved in making decisions affecting the agricultural community
- Nonuniformity between rural and urban residents when responding to this survey question
- 67% agree that engaging in civil discourse is the best way to work with those who have different environmental attitudes
- 76% believe some individuals are more to blame for environmental problems than others
- 25% of survey respondents come from an area with more than 1,000,000 individuals, 5% from an area with 25,000-50,000 individuals, 14% from an area with less than 10,000 individuals
- Those living in rural and less populated areas are not fond of urban environmentalists and politicians being involved in making decisions that affect the agricultural community
- Individuals from a town of <10,000 people (14%) were the strongest outliers in various responses
I achieved my objectives, as well as achieving an understanding of how communities with different values can still work together to achieve a common environmental goal. By using the dialogic model in my interviews, I was able to successfully engage with those with different backgrounds.
My project outcomes are limited due to the fact that I was not able to engage with a larger student body or rural resource managers. However, this is only a minor setback, as it is still possible to reach out to the agricultural community and other individuals with different values at a later date. If I pursue this issue at a future date, I would find a wider range of people, especially those directly involved in agriculture, to take my survey and be interviewed.
- McBeth, Mark K., and Richard H. Foster. 1994. “Rural Environmental Attitudes.” Environmental Management 18 (3): 401–11. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02393869.
- Rayner, Steve. 2014. “Wicked Problems.” Environmental Scientist 23 (2): 3–4.
- Verweij, Marco, Mary Douglas, Richard Ellis, Christoph Engel, Frank Hendriks, Susanne Lohmann, Steven Ney, Steve Rayner, and Michael Thompson. 2006. “Clumsy Solutions for a Complex World: The Case of Climate Change.” Public Administration 84 (4): 817–43.