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      A review of assertions about the processes and outcomes of social learning in natural resource management

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      Journal of Environmental Management

      Elsevier BV

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          Abstract

          Social learning has become a central theme in natural resource management. This growing interest is underpinned by a number of assertions about the outcomes of social learning, and about the processes that support these outcomes. Yet researchers and practitioners who seek to engage with social learning through the natural resource management literature often become disorientated by the myriad processes and outcomes that are identified. We trace the roots of current assertions about the processes and outcomes of social learning in natural resource management, and assess the extent to which there is an emerging consensus on these assertions. Results suggest that, on the one hand, social learning is described as taking place through deliberative interactions amongst multiple stakeholders. During these interactions, it is argued that participants learn to work together and build relationships that allow for collective action. On the other hand, social learning is described as occurring through deliberate experimentation and reflective practice. During these iterative cycles of action, monitoring and reflection, participants learn how to cope with uncertainty when managing complex systems. Both of these processes, and their associated outcomes, are referred to as social learning. Where, therefore, should researchers and practitioners focus their attention? Results suggest that there is an emerging consensus that processes that support social learning involve sustained interaction between stakeholders, on-going deliberation and the sharing of knowledge in a trusting environment. There is also an emerging consensus that the key outcome of such learning is improved decision making underpinned by a growing awareness of human-environment interactions, better relationships and improved problem-solving capacities for participants.

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          Most cited references 32

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          Large-Scale Management Experiments and Learning by Doing

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            Adaptive comanagement for building resilience in social-ecological systems.

            Ecosystems are complex adaptive systems that require flexible governance with the ability to respond to environmental feedback. We present, through examples from Sweden and Canada, the development of adaptive comanagement systems, showing how local groups self-organize, learn, and actively adapt to and shape change with social networks that connect institutions and organizations across levels and scales and that facilitate information flows. The development took place through a sequence of responses to environmental events that widened the scope of local management from a particular issue or resource to a broad set of issues related to ecosystem processes across scales and from individual actors, to group of actors to multiple-actor processes. The results suggest that the institutional and organizational landscapes should be approached as carefully as the ecological in order to clarify features that contribute to the resilience of social-ecological systems. These include the following: vision, leadership, and trust; enabling legislation that creates social space for ecosystem management; funds for responding to environmental change and for remedial action; capacity for monitoring and responding to environmental feedback; information flow through social networks; the combination of various sources of information and knowledge; and sense-making and arenas of collaborative learning for ecosystem management. We propose that the self-organizing process of adaptive comanagement development, facilitated by rules and incentives of higher levels, has the potential to expand desirable stability domains of a region and make social-ecological systems more robust to change.
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              Participatory rural appraisal (PRA): Analysis of experience

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Journal of Environmental Management
                Journal of Environmental Management
                Elsevier BV
                03014797
                December 2012
                December 2012
                : 113
                :
                : 7-14
                Article
                10.1016/j.jenvman.2012.08.021
                22985710
                © 2012

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