Public Engagement and Societal Decision-Making About Long-Term Ecological Research

Sunday, February 19, 2017: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Room 306 (Hynes Convention Center)
Sarah Garlick, Hubbard Brook Research Foundation, North Woodstock, NH
Sarah Garlick will describe learning and outcomes from engaging publics around the societal and policy dimensions of long-term ecological research through an NSF-funded Advancing Informal STEM Learning project. Sarah will share findings and outcomes from her unique perspective as a public engagement with science (PES) practitioner working at the interface between ecosystem scientists from multiple institutions and local stakeholders from multiple networks.

The Forest Science Dialogues project piloted a model of dialogue-based engagement between ecosystem scientists and stakeholders in the rural Northern Forest region of the northeastern US. The purpose of the project was to build knowledge about mutual learning among scientists and stakeholders during face-to-face, facilitated dialogue settings. The project also worked to build capacity for scientists and PES practitioners to support outcomes of dialogue activities.

The project involved a series of iterative roundtable dialogue events with scientists who work on the long-term Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and invited stakeholder participants representing major networks across the Northern Forest, including woodlot owners, consulting foresters, corporate and nonprofit land managers, maple syrup producers, loggers, outdoor recreation leaders and business owners, informal and formal educators, economic development organizations, conservation organizations, and state and federal agencies. An evaluation of the project was conducted by RMC Research Corp.

Forest Science Dialogues resulted in new insights about convening intentional dialogues among scientists and stakeholders in a rural region, and overcoming barriers to PES. Project outcomes also included insights about scientists’ and stakeholders’ motivations for participating in dialogue-based PES and what participants valued about the events. Looking forward, the Forest Science Dialogues project provides a potential new model for advancing the broader impacts of long-term ecological research using the methods and theoretical framework of PES.