Visualizing and Planning Sustainable Futures: How Do Participatory Future Scenarios Influence Trust, Collaboration, and the Use of Science in Environmental Governance?

Authors: Hannah Gosnell*, Oregon State University
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Land Use and Land Cover Change, Sustainability Science
Keywords: scenario planning, sustainability, trust, social learning, transformation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2020
Start / End Time: 8:40 AM / 9:55 AM
Room: Tower Court D, Sheraton, IM Pei Tower, Second Floor Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Trust is a major driver of human interaction with science and, by extension, how humans participate in environmental governance associated with ecosystem management and restoration. There is a need for a better understanding of where and why trust breaks down in governance of public resources and how it might be enhanced. While there has been some research on the role of trust related to science, a more rigorous integration of theoretical insights from social sciences and philosophy regarding trust with STS conceptual frames would significantly advance knowledge about the potential for sustainability transitions in a variety of domains. The utility of different “levers” or interventions aimed at disrupting problematic feedbacks and facilitating system transformation through collaboration, trust building and social learning regarding complex adaptive systems is of particular interest. This paper will explore how science has been used in participatory future scenarios aimed at engaging stakeholders in imagining alternative futures and with what kinds of policy and management outcomes. The results of a comprehensive review of different approaches to planning and implementing participatory future scenarios will be presented with consideration of benefits, challenges and tradeoffs in different contexts. The use of narrative approaches to scenario development, in particular, will be examined for their ability to facilitate social learning regarding complexity, adaptability, sustainability, and resilience in social-ecological systems; and for their potential to help stakeholders articulate shared imaginaries of sustainable futures and engage in collaborative governance processes.

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