Social Networks and Sustainability

Monday, February 21, 2011: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM
156 (Washington Convention Center )
Many problems of sustainability are strongly influenced by the social networks that link together relevant stakeholders. These networks are often complex, self-organizing mosaics that include diverse actors such as natural resource users, scientists, and policy advocates. Social networks also shape the dynamics that give rise to conflict and consensus within social groups. Networks are therefore an important mechanism for the emergence of collective action and successful learning in the face of problems of sustainability, which are often characterized by scientific uncertainty and deep conflicts over interests and values. Recent scientific advances in the analysis of networks provide rich scientific ground for understanding the role of social networks in sustainability. Understanding the emergence and structure of networks engages deep theoretical issues regarding how networks self-organize, grow, and evolve over time and how individuals embedded within networks make decisions and learn about complex issues. This session has two goals. First, we will review recent advances in research on how network processes influence decision-making for sustainability. Second, this session will explore how a better understanding of these processes enable strategies to resolve conflict and promote more effective collaboration and learning. These are key ingredients to finding lasting solutions to wrenching problems of sustainability.
Thomas Dietz, Michigan State University
Adam D. Henry, West Virginia University
Bora Zivkovic, Scientific American
and Maria Lemos, University of Michigan
Ken Frank, Michigan State University
Natural Resource Management Networks
Adam D. Henry, West Virginia University
Networks and Policy Learning for Sustainability
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