Within environmentalism there can be unnecessary miscommunication and individuals can hold potentially damaging misconceptions about others who share a similar goal. I believe the power environmentalists have suffers from a lack of unity, empathy, and cooperation. I think this phenomenon stems from nature of how environmentalists tend to hold their beliefs. Everyone has different values and different life experiences that lead them to protect themselves and their environment in many different and often conflicting ways. The field of environmental studies is so complex that it is near impossible to see the whole story holistically. Therefore I think it is imperative that we listen to one another respectfully and carefully(especially those we disagree with), and understand the many conflicting truths within one issue. We would have more success as environmentalists as a united front. A good starting point for this is identifying a common goal or issue, and setting up communication between each stakeholder in that issue. I would like to focus my research project on stakeholders in land management. I would like to speak with farmers who engage in a variety of agricultural practices and communities, environmentalists with a focus on animal welfare and food security, policy makers, loggers, and inhabitants of rural areas. I want to begin to assess the attitudes stakeholders in land management have towards each other, both positive and negative.
What: Environmental Scholarship
I have chosen to connect with stakeholders in land management in order to ensure the people I speak with have some connection or common interest. I believe it will be easier to compare the responses I obtain if the respondents share a connection to something(ie., land). Primarily, would like to focus on the communication, or lack of it, between separate stakeholders in land management. There are a multitude of different people with different values, backgrounds, and expertise who are connected somehow to and management. I plan to use the dialogic model to collect data through a series of conversations with people of conflicting values(Fellows, Proctor 2016).
When considering how to approach the problem of communication between stakeholders in land management, I will consider Steve Rayner’s categorization of “Wicked Problems”. many issues in land management are symptomatic of a deeper problem, and have redistributive implications for entrenched interests, and contain contradictory certitudes (Rayner 2016). For example, soil fertility is one issue that shares these traits. There are many presented solutions to the soil infertility, each requires specific conditions to work properly. In long-term conservation tillage under Mediterranean conditions researchers found soil quality was improved in the superficial layer(Madejón 2007). However, no-till soil management can cause higher CO2 emissions in the wet season, and cause lower productivity in Andisol soils due to the clay layer in layer B of the soil. (Kern, Johnson 1993). The problem of soil fertility is to complex to be easily fixed by one solution such as no-till agriculture. In some cases this solution can even aggravate the problem. This is just one of many ‘wicked problems’ within land management that require ‘clumsy solutions’ to be improved(Rayner 2016). This includes dialogue and collaboration between the many stakeholders within this issue in order to utilize all expertise on a subject to it’s fullest extent.
The involvement of various stakeholders within an issue can increase the effectiveness and influence of proposed solutions. “project quality mainly includes social learning and adequate technical solutions. This is possible through the support and cooperation between the involved parties and the resulting input of knowledge” (Luyet, Schlaepfer, Parlange, Buttler 2012). Rayner proposes that in order to solve the difficult problems we face in environmental studies, we need to address complex and many-faceted ‘wicked problems’ with ‘clumsy solutions’: “policies that creatively combine all opposing perspectives on what the problems are and how they should be resolved”(Verweij, Douglas, Ellis, Engel, Hendricks, Lohmann, Ney, Rayner, Thompson 2006). In order to attempt to effectively communicate with and understand and wide variety of individuals I plan to consider the four categories within sociocultural theory:(1) egalitarianism; (2) hierarchy; (3) individualism; and (4) fatalism. I will use the grid group typography to consider the perspectives and positions of various individuals. If my results are conducive to this, I will also utilize this to propose or advocate for a ‘clumsy solution’ to the problem of miscommunication and division between opposing stakeholders within one issue.
Who: People Component
In my experience, there is a tendency for diverse individuals who ultimately have a shared interest to face conflict with one another. Yet each has valuable expertise and perspective that the other would benefit from. I intend to connect with stakeholders in in land management including environmentalists, policy makers, and those who profit off the land. In addition, I want to connect with as many farmers as I can, who utilise a wide range of farming techniques. I see these groups of people as being direct stakeholders in land management who may disagree with one another and have conflicting values. I want to ensure I connect with people of a wide range of political and economic backgrounds.
How: Connecting Actions
I plan to do a large number of interveiws and collect qualitative data from as many people as possible. I have quite a few connections with people in these fields who I can interview, and can connect me with others as well. Due to the fact that most of the people I know are environmentally conscious left-leaning liberals, reaching out to those of opposing political views and backgrounds may be a challenge. however I want to work to make sure I get those perspectives as well. While a survey method may be useful for this project, I want to steer away from it to avoid getting a sample of people who have values that are too similar.
While interviewing these individuals, I want to pay careful attention not only to their attitudes towards each other, but to where they feel misunderstood or frustrated. What gives their opinions value? How does personal beliefs or experience affect consideration for the well being of the whole? Where do they feel heard? Ignored? What would they want someone to a conflicting opinions to understand or at least consider? In doing this I hope to find more common ground between conflicting sides than what seems obvious. My primary motivation is to listen to what people are saying and identify patterns within this through the use of the dialogic model. I will ask broad, open questions and allow the conversation to unfold organically.
Sample questions I plan on asking:
What is your line of work?
What was your motivation for entering this field?
What are your personal/ proffessional goals?
Who/ What are your allies in achieving this?
Where do you find opposition?
- Week 5: Begin contacting potential interviewees and connecting with organizations that may lead to further research subjects such as the Oregon Farm Bureau.
- Week 6: Find recent scholarly papers written by environmentalists about animal husbandry, food security, social justice, etc. that mention agriculture
- Week 7: Continue conducting interviews and researching
- Week 8: Conduct interviews and continue researching, begin to qualify data
- Week 9: create charts, graphs, etc. to display data
- Week 10: Begin create digital portfolio and continue
- Week 11: Create poster draft and work on portfolio
- Week 12: Finalize poster and portfolio drafts
If I accomplish the goals I set in my first paragraph, I will have connected with and interviewed a large number of individuals of diverse values and backgrounds. By the end of this project I hope to have identified patterns within the way these people communicate with one another, and the conceptions they have of one another. To successfully do this, I must gather a sufficient amount of data to observe what patterns may or may not be present in the attitudes of stakeholders in land management. At the end of this project, I plan to write a paper summarizing the data I collect and resulting conclusions I make. In addition I will use CmapTools to create a visual representation of connections I draw through the data I collect.
Kern, J. S., and M. G. Johnson. 1993. “Conservation Tillage Impacts on National Soil and Atmospheric Carbon Levels.” Soil Science Society of America Journal 57 (1):200–210. https://doi.org/10.2136/sssaj1993.03615995005700010036x.
Schuller, Paulina, Desmond E. Walling, Alejandra Sepúlveda, Alejandra Castillo, and Inés Pino. 2007. “Changes in Soil Erosion Associated with the Shift from Conventional Tillage to a No-Tillage System, Documented Using 137Cs Measurements.” Soil & Tillage Research 94 (1):183–92. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.still.2006.07.014.
Fellows, Aaron and Proctor, Jim. 2016. “Models of Environmental Communication.” Digital Scholarship Multisite https://ds.lclark.edu/envs/models-of-environmental-communication/
Rayner, Steve. 2014. “Wicked Problems.” Environmental Scientist 6-7
Luyet, Vincent, Schlaepfer, Rodolphe, Parlange, Marc B., and Buttler, Alexandre. 2012. “A framework to implement Stakeholder participation in environmental projects.” Journal of Environmental Management 111 (1):213-219
Verweij, Marco, Douglas, Mary, Ellis, Richard, Engel, Hendricks, Christoph, Lohmann, Susanne, Ney, Steven, Rayner, Steve, Thompson, Michael. 2006. “Clumsy Solutions for a Complex World: The Case of Climate Change.” Blackwell Publishing. Public Administration Vol. 84, No. 4, 2006 (817–843)