2016 Authors and Abstracts

Wenjuan Bi

Getting to action on issues of gender equality in China: From participatory training to government officials’ participating in change behavior
Although the central government of China published the Law on the Protection of Women’s Rights and Interests in 1992 and refined it in 2005, gender equality is still an issue on which the local governments as taken little action. This paper focuses on analysis of effectiveness of initial participatory trainings of governmental officials aimed at increasing skill levels in using a gender perspective to handle domestic violence situations and nonviolent family conflicts.

Michael Dahlstrom Giles Dodson & Anna Palliser

Advancing practical theory in environmental communication: A phronetic analysis of environmental participation and dialogue in New Zealand
Despite widespread support of collaborative and participatory approaches to natural resource management (NRM) and environmental management internationally, understandings of such approaches are frequently simplistic and even idealized. If collaborative and participatory approaches are viewed as panaceas, able to resolve grievances and empower communities, the reality of their political and contested nature is likely to remain inadequately addressed, and important initiatives may be undermined. The uncertain implementation of participatory, dialogic approaches to NRM is especially relevant in the New Zealand context, where indigenous Māori communities have a deep connection to natural resources and a long history of grievances about being excluded from their management. This essay uses insights from phronetic social science, critical systems thinking and post-normal science to advance our understanding of participation and dialogue in environmental management, applying these analytical tools to two case studies of recent participatory environmental management initiatives.

Shannon Dosemagen & Gretchen Gehrke

Civic technology and community science: A new model for public participation in environmental decisions
Public Lab, an open community developing and utilizing civic technologies to address environmental concerns, introduces a model of community science incorporating open source practices including transparent collaboration, iterative design, and democratic governance. Public Lab conceptualizes a tiered approach to project development, delineated by the scope of community objectives and the role of community science. Tier 1 focuses on community engagement. Tier 2 involves community-created and conducted science for community-relevant outcomes. Tier 3 incorporates institutional partners to collaboratively achieve community goals with broader implications. Community science can enable the public to effect local change or participate in broader environmental decision-making.

Jean Goodwin

Questioning models
Participatory processes in which scientists and citizens co-construct a model of the local environment show promise in opening dialogues, bridging partisan divides, revealing new ways forward and crafting acceptable management decisions. Yet in other contexts, we know that model results are often resisted when they produce politically unpalatable outcomes. In this paper, I report on the questions and challenges directed against social and hydrological models by participants in a pilot co-modeling process organized by the Water & Climate Change project at ISU. This repertoire of resistance are less problems to be overcome than places for scientists to learn from their citizen-collaborators.

Scott Graham

Strategic epistemologies and political ontologies: Exploring competing normative visions for public participation in science policy
Scholars in science and technology studies and science communication are constantly working to conceptualize approaches that promote ethical and effective science-policy decision making. While this research provides a plethora of theories of expertise, models for inclusion, and procedural proposals in science-policy decision making, any sort of systematic comparative assessment of different expertise models remains largely absent. Accordingly, this presentation is devoted to an exploration of the underling political ontologies and strategic epistemologies in the extant scholarship. In so doing, the aim is to identify possible consensus positions which might productively ground coordinated inquiry.

Nancy Grudens-Schuck & Zulham Sirajuddin

Citizen science: Evaluating for civic engagement
Citizen science programs engage the public in collecting data for science-related projects. This paper will investigate the claim that citizen science programs deliver opportunities for a specific kind of public benefit, “civic engagement.” The paper will identify specific behaviors and conditions that have been used as indicators of citizen engagement in citizen science. Second, the paper will report on progress of an empirical study (a program evaluation) conducted in spring of 2016 of the Iowater Program, a citizen science program managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which has trained over 5,000 citizens in water monitoring and reporting.

Dan Hicks

Inductive risk, relevant evidence, and deep disagreement
This paper suggests that insights from philosophers of science on the concept of inductive risk might be useful for understanding certain aspects of deep disagreement in public scientific controversies. The basic insight of inductive risk is that accepting a factual claim carries certain hazards, and the degree of evidence required for acceptance depends on the seriousness of those hazards. It follows immediately that, if people disagree on the seriousness of the hazards (in a particular controversy), then they will not necessarily agree on the degree of evidence required to accept the key factual claims. On this analysis, skeptics are not necessarily ignorant or irrational. Instead, different values lead to different evidentiary requirements. If that’s right, then it’s possible that strictly speaking neither side is wrong when believers say "the science is settled" and skeptics say that further research is needed. Perhaps the science is settled relative to believers’ concerns, but further research is needed relative to skeptics’ concerns. This suggests an alternative to both consensus and Galileo narratives of deep disagreements. On a relevant evidence narrative, the critical issue is whether and to what degree the evidence is relevant to the concerns of different groups. Journalists and other professional science communicators, who will often be more sensitive to value differences between groups than STEM researchers, may be especially well-suited to craft such narratives.

Kathleen P. Hunt, Nicolas Paliewiscz, & Danielle Endres

The radical potential of public hearings: A rhetorical assessment of resistance and indecorous voice in public participation processes
Whereas many scholars have pointed out the limitations of public participation forums as instrumentalist models of environmental decision-making that marginalize oppositional voices or exclude public opinion formations through Decide, Announce, Defend (DAD) approaches, scholarship has not yet pointed out intersections between public participation and social movement studies. This chapter fills this gap by discussing how public participation process can become sites of radical politics through indecorous voice. Indecorous voice occurs when publics employ disruptive or improper tactics at public forums to resist processes that would otherwise use decorum to subordinate oppositional voices. Indecorum performatively questions what counts as public participation and can be used to sustain the life of protest matters beyond official public participation forums and forge new identities of protest. We support this argument by analyzing two public participation events – one classical and another contemporary – that each demonstrate the utility of indecorum. The first takes place in Love Canal, NY where residents learned they were living on a toxic plume, and the second occurs in Salt Lake City, UT, where publics challenge institutional authorities for compromising public health by privileging industrial expansion over clean air.

Adrienne Lamberti

When student/organization partners are among the “public”: Teaching mindful decision-making via community engagement projects
When stabilizing definitions of “new forms of interaction between experts and decision-makers,” there are implications for instructors whose curricula include such interactions. These classroom interactions can be framed via The Carnegie Foundation’s understanding of community engagement as "the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities…, for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.” This collaboration invokes knowledge going beyond traditional “assumptions of expertise,” and can cultivate relationships between formally trained environmental, planning, and health workers, with others in the same fields who possess their own brands of specialized knowledge.

Colene J. Lind

Talk about place: A rhetorical analysis of public discourse about water
Can place-based talk be provincial enough to engage those directly affected by environmental policy, but cosmopolitan enough to also consider outside perspectives as well as the common good? To address this question, the author analyzed transcripts from thirty public discussions held during meetings on water use in Kansas. The author found that talking about places allows citizens to contribute confidently, however, analysis also suggested a discrete orientation toward environmental issues, with little consideration of natural or social connections. The author considers implications for public participation in environmental decision-making.

Katherine R McKiernan & Andra Steinbergs

Scientists as Audience: Science Communicators as Mediators of Wicked Problems
Important intersections of science and public policy are often wicked problems that require bringing together information from multiple stakeholders with different worldviews. Here, we explore the importance of information flow among all stakeholders in taming these problems. We use this framework to suggest conceptualizing scientists as an audience for public-originating information and propose a role for science communicators to speak to scientists. We examine the rhetorical situation, with an emphasis on audience, for communicators taking up such a role. Finally, we consider possible benefits of this type of science communication given our wicked problem framework.

Peter Muhlberger & Lisa Pytlik-Zillig

Agency theory: Toward a framework for research in the public’s support for and understanding of science
Public understanding of science and public engagement around science policy issues takes place within a complex system involving public opinion, values, identities, social groups, media, and social, economic, and political structures and influences. This paper offers a theory of agency that bridges the psychological and sociological and thereby offers a theoretical framework for understanding the system underlying public understanding of science, support for science, and the implications of public engagement. Agency theory combines elements of theories of complex systems, self-regulation, dual processing, communicative action, social identity, and social-structural influences.

Rachel Murdock

What do they want from us? Examining the institutional and personal goals for scientists engaging with public audiences
The imperative need for scientist/public interaction, communication, teaching, advocacy, advising and engagement often seems to be an underlying assumption from which studies about public engagement with science operate. However, the underlying question of “what do we hope these interactions will accomplish” is often unstated, or accepted uncritically as good and necessary, without critical examination of the goals for the interactions. In reality, stakeholders have many different goals for public communication of science, and interaction between publics and scientists can’t be appropriately rated as effective, ineffective or successful unless the goals of the interaction(s) are clearly defined. This study attempts to discover what reasons, implicit or explicit, are given by scientific societies, governmental agencies, scientists, and science study scholars for encouraging the interaction of scientists and publics.

Ruth O’Connor, Lilly Lim-Camacho & Fabien Medvecky

Decision-makers engaging with science: What should we value?
This paper explores what decision-makers as publics value about science engagement. Decision-makers have the potential power to influence both the nature and application of science. However, they are considered outside the public sphere of Public Engagement with Science with its normative base in deliberative democracy. While there are several existing evaluation frameworks designed for the general public, it is unclear whether or not these frameworks can be applied meaningfully to decision-makers. We present here the preliminary findings from a case study that tests a set of evaluation principles with Australian decision-makers engaging with science related to climate change adaptation.

Sally F. Paulson

Criteria as “facts": How to keep the public active in the process of administrative decision-making
To explore the roadblock the legal concept “deliberative privilege” presents to effective public participation in administrative decision-making, the paper first explains the privilege is intended to ensure the development of effective administrative policies by protecting questions of “opinion” from discovery. However, drawing from environmental law, the paper raises the possibility the privilege shelters a key aspect of administrative decision-making, the process of developing criteria and the criteria themselves, from public scrutiny and thus effectively prevents public participation in such decision-making and proposes a way to allow such participation is to define criteria as questions of fact, which are discoverable.

Alenka Poplin

Game-based playful geodesign for public participation in urban planning
Playful public participation (PPP) is based on the idea of engaging citizens through play and games. In our research we concentrate on serious, digital geogames for civic engagement. Such games may be part of a geodesign process, and can include geodesign tools and applications in order to create playful geodesign environments in which citizens co-create and experiment with different designs of their cities and neighborhoods. How can serious, digital geogames be utilized in the process of designing solutions for sustainable cities? Can online geogames attract more citizens to participate in the co-creation of places in which they live? Can they provide immersive virtual environments which enable experiments, digital design and participation? In this presentation, we report on a game-based prototype: the online serious geogame B3 – Design your Marketplace!

Linda Prokopy

Relationship between co-production and public participation
The scholarship on co-production and public participation has followed different paths yet there is clearly a great deal of similarity between co-production and higher levels of participation as envisioned by public participation pioneers. This talk will explore similarities and dissimilarities between these two concepts with an emphasis on: (1) how both public participation and co-production can exploit stakeholders and lead to tokenism; (2) how the co-production literature moves beyond the public participation literature in exploring how end-users input in science can lead to improved scientific findings; and (3) the role of boundary organizations.

Tyler Quiring

Transmediating NEST: Building a habitat for ecological storymaking
Transmedia storytelling can help environmental communicators enhance creative collaboration within sustainability science. I overview the emergence of transmedia storytelling and reflect on examples that illustrate its narrative and critical contributions to environmental communication. I also provide a case study of my own applied project, a website called Safe Beaches, Shellfish, & You that uses transmedia to engage collaborators in communication about and for environments. Finally, I argue that transmedia is more a process of storymaking than storytelling, and that mindful and ethically engaged transmedia storymaking meets the needs of both researchers and stakeholders connected through sustainability science.

Lydia Reinig & Leah Sprain

Cultural discourses of public engagement: Insights for transformation
While the gap between ideals of public participation and actual processes is widely recognized in scholarship, fewer studies analyze the ways situated talk reveals local premises for public participation, and how situated talk might transform practices. By looking at public meetings discourse on energy system transformation, our analysis explores how cultural discourses of public engagement configure participatory practices and is leveraged in decision-making processes. Teasing out these complexities allows us to come to a better understanding of the connections between communicative action and participatory ideals.

Linda Shenk, Nadia Anderson & Ulrike Passe

Youth and engaged science for sustainable cities: A partnership between “East High Cares” and an Iowa State University research team
Members of Iowa State’s “Big Data for Sustainable Cities Decision-Making” research team are developing community engagement methodologies involving a high school group (East High Cares) as core leaders for an urban garden project in an economically burdened neighborhood of Des Moines, Iowa. We will discuss how we integrate the youth’s community leadership with data collection using local action projects. City officials and researchers have long struggled to reach, communicate with, and involve residents from marginalized populations. Our methods address these challenges and expand the relevance of city decision-making by connecting research and empowering local action.

Linda Silka, Bridie McGreavy & David Hart

Health, the environment, and sustainability: Shared lessons across highly diverse public participation activities
Most lessons about public participation are gleaned from very specific domains, yet innovative ideas often emerge when lessons across very different domains are brought together. Our public engagement efforts span health, the environment, and sustainability in rural and urban settings with long term residents as well as new immigrants. We have worked with hundreds of faculty and stakeholders in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire on topics as varied as immigrant fishing in contaminated water, shared governance of shellfish areas, remediation of lead contamination in urban areas, and shared decision making on dam removal. The diversity of these efforts offers lessons about strategies for public engagement for decision making.

Molly Simis & Jill Hopke

Fracking, the Elsipogtog First Nation and police repression: The role of images in amplifying outrage on Twitter
Using anti-shale development protests and subsequent police actions as a case study, we examine the dynamics of environmental conflict and the potential for amplification effects with visual social media. In October 2013, members of the Elsipogtog First Nation protested shale gas exploration in New Brunswick, Canada, and were met with police force. We present the findings from analysis of a dataset of several thousand tweets collected during the protests. We investigate the features of Twitter posts that are particularly wide-reaching, as compared to dead-end tweets. Our analysis contributes to advancing a greater understanding of what types of images and textual messages are more likely to be amplified on Twitter. This research also contributes to understanding polarization on the issue of fracking and perceptions of police repression of Indigenous peoples.

Zulham Sirajuddin & Nancy Grudens-Schuck

Bridging power asymmetries in facilitating public participation
Participatory facilitation of conflicts and projects in agricultural and natural resources frequently causes facilitators to reflect with care upon structure and choice of methods. Because participation does not occur in a power vacuum but rather as embedded social and power structures which potentially interfere with already-set social norms, these dilemmas underscore the importance of better facilitation structures and techniques to mediate the complexity of disagreements. This paper will review the literature on selecting and applying facilitation methods in developing rural areas of Asia. The paper will discuss key steps for involving marginalized communities using participatory approach practices.

Kurt Stavenhagen

Whose honey, whose hive?: Rhetorical agency
My paper analyzes the narratives U.S. beekeepers used to define Colony Collapse Disorder, a crisis that continues to kill a third of U.S. honey bees each year and threatens $15 billion of crops. From my analysis of personal interviews with U.S. beekeepers including Dave Hackenberg, former president of the American Honey Producers Association, I find they supply more pragmatic and emplaced narratives than those supplied by scientists and media: rather than define the crisis as pathogenic or a crime-narrative “whodunnit” with singular solutions, beekeepers define it in terms of economics and interactive "field" conditions such as pesticides, watersheds, bee genetics and foraging. Citing the work of Peterson, Lamberti and Schell, I advance the argument that defining "farmer’s narratives" helps better define food-related environmental crises.

Chui-Ling Tam

Communicative space and the maritime agora
Deliberative participation is a popular strategy in contested spaces such as fisheries and marine protected areas. However, in Indonesia, maritime dwellers share stories in spaces unbounded by the moment that new spatial imaginaries or participatory decision-making processes emerge. Such communicative spaces form a maritime agora of backrooms and thoroughfares where knowledge and lived experience are discussed and performed. This reveals three insights. First, communication chaos and disorder are intrinsic to informal participation. Second, thoroughfares should be viewed not as temporary passing spaces but as habitual time-spaces of engagement. And third, the boundaries between public and private communicative space are elastic.

Scott Tanona

Expertise and failures of rationality in public participation in science
In this presentation I explore two areas of expertise relevant to rational decision-making in public participation: expertise in evidential reasoning and expertise in value self-identification. I describe ways in which public participation may introduce trade-offs between accurate reflection of public values and evidential quality and precision, where loss of either may lead to a failure of public rationality. I consider whether public consultation may ameliorate the risk of failure through delineation of areas of expertise.

Sarah M. Upton, Carlos A. Tarin, Stacey K. Sowards, & Kenneth C.C. Yang

Rare’s conservation campaigns: Community decision making and public participation for behavior change in Indonesia, China, and Latin America
In this essay we explore the ways in which Rare, an international non-profit organization, uses institutional, practical, and local knowledge as a symbolic resource to create environmental change. Rare’s approach involves identifying human behaviors that cause threats to biodiversity, using social science research to identify community-based and public participation solutions to change these behaviors, launching a Pride campaign designed to instill pride within a local community and to facilitate the removal of barriers to conservation, and adapting conservation solutions on a broader scale. We offer case studies from three regions where Rare works: Indonesia, Latin America, and China. While conservation efforts often focus on tangible material resources, limiting the available options for change, we ultimately argue that Rare’s focus on symbolic resources in Pride campaigns uses the paradigm of constructed potentiality, generating multiple options for creating change through public participation.

Dara M. Wald, Erik W. Johnston, Elizabeth A. Segal and Ajay Vinze

Understanding the influence of power and perspective taking on collaborative decision-making
Public engagement in collaborative natural resource decision-making is inherently difficult because it requires input from multiple diverse groups with disparate perspectives and divergent interests. Perspective-taking is a key component of collaborative behavior because it encourages social bonds, positive social interactions, and shared understanding. Despite the well-established theoretical relationship between perspective-taking and collaboration, it is still unclear how to reliably generate perspective-taking to promote collaborative decision-making, particularly in situations involving inequalities of power or resource control. In this paper, I explore how participation in a collaborative threshold public goods activity, with different levels of starting and ending control over natural resources, influenced individual perspective-taking and collaborative action. Participants (n=180) were randomly assigned to control groups (high resources, low resources) and treatment groups (lose resources, gain resources). Multilevel analysis revealed significant differences in individual perspective-taking scores between treatment and control groups. Despite designing the treatment to promote perspective-taking, participants in the treatment group that lost resources reported decreased perspective-taking scores over time. Moreover, decreased perspective-taking scores were associated with reduced collaborative contributions or egoistic behavior. These results provide support for the theoretical relationship between perspective-taking and collaborative behavior and suggest that current models of collaborative resource management are missing key information about the effect of resource control on the relationship between perspective-taking and collaborative behavior. I conclude by exploring a number of possible reasons for the observed egoistic behavior among groups that lost resources and discuss the implications for public engagement in environmental decisions.

Gregg Walker, Steve Daniels, Sharon Timko, Susan Hansen, & Carmine Lockwood

Listening and learning: Stakeholder views of participation and communication in forest planning
Public participation is about communication; citizens expressing their ideas about potential policy decisions. This essay focuses on conventional and innovative approaches to public participation and communication by reporting on the views of people who care about natural resource management and want to be involved specifically in forest management planning and activities. These views are drawn from comments recorded at “listening sessions” conducted as part of forest plan revision efforts on two National Forests in the United States. The essay presents nine themes that emerged from the listening sessions; themes related to participation, communication, and building constructive working relationships.

Judith McIntosh White

Digging up the past, imagining the future: The role of participatory museum curricula in facilitating public engagement with science through improving lay mechanisms for deliberative democracy
Answering Alan Irwin’s call for social scientists to “exercise greater imagination in helping foster a culture of experimentation in citizens’ responses to scientific fact and policy, thus acting to pluralize practice and offer ways of thinking that embrace different levels and ways of knowing”, this research posits that involvement in participatory museum curriculum – e.g., three digs sponsored by archeology/paleontology museums – may foster development of deliberative democracy mechanisms in members of the lay public.

Rachel Young, Kajsa E. Dalrymple & Melissa Tully

#Engagement: Use of Twitter chats to construct nominal participatory spaces
Results from a thematic analysis of CDC Twitter chats, found the online space was used to reduce uncertainty by reiterating facts about Ebola transmission. In a content analysis of all #CDCchat questions posted during a CDC chat on the Zika virus, we compare questions answered by the CDC with questions and comments that were not addressed. As with the thematic analysis, the Zika chat was used to propagate facts rather than engage with more contentious public comments. Findings suggest chats are used to construct nominal participatory spaces but the terms of engagement are narrowly defined by the organization.

Tanya Zarlengo

Frankenbug meets the conch republic: Engagement, expertise, and “strategic irrationality” in public scientific controversies
Via a case study of the controversy surrounding release of genetically modified mosquitos in the Florida Keys, this presentation explores escalated conflicts between stakeholders who perceive themselves to be equally empowered and, therefore, justified in dominating public deliberations and policy decisions. The antagonistic discourse that characterizes the Keys controversy may be understood as a power struggle in which both the citizen-scientists and scientist-citizens wrestle for the same intellectual and jurisdictional turf. A description of this dynamic extends the discussion of asymmetrical institutional and social power relations to explicate the concept of “strategic irrationality” as a means of disrupting productive deliberations.