About: Developing the Manager Climate Corps
“Rooting the process of adaptation in communities allows important communal practices... to be identified and used to facilitate change from within, rather than attempting to force change from without” (Ensor and Berger 2009: 231).
“Social inclusion will result in more socially sustainable processes, yielding collectively higher levels of societal well-being” (Dujon et al. 2013: 2).
Our mission is to facilitate collaboration and coproduction between interdisciplinary researchers and natural resource managers to build actionable tools and products that meaningfully meet the needs of on-the-ground managers and communities during times of ecological, social, and economic change, particularly through the impacts of climate change.
Working to "get to know our neighbors", we build upon existing local knowledge networks and utilize the process of knowledge coproduction as the mechanism to achieve this mission.
Knowledge Coproduction: “the process of producing usable, or actionable, science through collaboration between scientists and resource managers who use the science to make policy and management decisions” (Meadow et al. 2015:179).
Knowledge Network: the collective group of natural resource managers, policy professionals, cultural practitioners, and scientists that employ the knowledge coproduction process (Laursen et al. in review).
By supporting diverse professional networks, the MCC helps communities adapt and become increasingly resilient to the impacts of climate change and other complex "adaptive challenges" by directly supporting the needs of local professional networks (O’Brien and Selboe 2015). We are focused on growing in-person relationships across diverse local networks and subsequently producing actionable products, such as applied research, software tools, networking workshops, and regular assessments that address the evolving needs of professionals within MCC networks. The knowledge coproduction process can be applied worldwide at most any spatial, organizational, or stakeholder scale. Our program chooses to focus on diverse professional networks that are accountable to specific landscapes and seascapes on Hawaiʻi Island as well as the communities that utilize these resources. As the scientific process and long-term professional networks increasingly root within the needs, values, worldviews, and practices of well-defined places, they profoundly expand the capacities of adaptation, resilience, and sustainability within local communities.
1) Identify and build upon existing professional networks locally. These growing transdisciplinary networks offer the foundation to address goals 2 & 3.
Transdisciplinary: involving extensive collaboration with local professional groups (end users) that are outside academic institutions, or "extra scientific" in nature (Jahn et al. 2012).
2) Develop increasingly diverse in-person professional networks of managers, policy implementers, cultural practitioners and researchers through a) novel networking opportunities and b) stakeholder-driven research projects that offer immediately useful products to local natural resource managers and communities through the process of knowledge coproduction.
3) Support the Pacific Islands CSC university consortium in the continued development of interdisciplinary coursework, directly involving the experience and expertise of local managers when possible.
Step 1: Discovering Manager Networks
In 2015, the Manager Climate Corps began searching out existing long-term local professional networks that would create the MCC's foundation and guide its climate research efforts at UH Hilo. We conducted a needs assessment of 29 local managers and policy implementers across Hawaiʻi Island. Fig. 1 in our Manager Needs Assessment section below displays 13 of these managers that are focused at site and watershed scales; remaining managers were at island-wide scales. Understanding the needs of diverse local professional networks would guide our subsequent knowledge coproduction networking efforts and the types of products and programs that result from such networking opportunities (see MCC Products page). The MCC foundation was deliberately built on sustained, long-term, and in-person interaction with local managers. By focusing on iterative, growing relationships, rather than a momentary needs assessment, the MCC can maintain support for local professional networks through time by sustained understanding of individual managers’ perceptions, norms, values, needs, information sources, and experiences (collectively their worldviews).
While there is a national focus on conducting “stakeholder-driven” science, our review of research efforts in the U.S. indicated that managers, decision makers, stakeholders, and end users are frequently poorly defined and management scales are often not clearly outlined (Nash et al. in review). In identifying stakeholders, we chose to connect with individuals whose positions are largely focused within Hawaiʻi Island and who are directly accountable to explicit areas of land, water, and the surrounding communities that utilize the managed natural resources. We targeted policy implementers, rather than policy makers, as implementers are immediately accountable to discrete areas and communities.
From June through October of 2015 we interviewed local managers across a variety of organization levels—county, state and federal government, private land managers—as well as a diversity of management sectors that may be influenced by changing climate—county planning, agriculture, and infrastructure. We initially interviewed managers in those different organizations and sectors who were familiar with faculty and staff (e.g., recent Masters graduates). Via referral sampling from those people, we then identified additional interviewees. Rather than an exhaustive survey of individuals, this snowball sampling approach enabled us to locate, engage, and build upon existing professional networks. Wide-ranging management perspectives were heard throughout our interviews discussing native ecosystems (terrestrial and marine), traditional cultural sites, traditional cultural homelands, marine recreation, open ocean harvesting and transport, near-shore safety, ranching, agriculture, county planning, community-based management, fire hazards, and invasive species. For additional perspectives shared by local natural resource managers and policy implementers and more extensive information on our methods, please see the the Manager Needs Assessment section below and/or our needs assessment report.
Step 2: Linking Local Manager and Research Networks
After analyzing our manager interviews, we invited all interested UH Hilo faculty to attend a transdisciplinary knowledge coproduction presentation on campus. The meeting was well attended with diverse representation of fields from sociology, Hawaiian studies, anthropology, geography, environmental engineering, environmental economics, marine sciences, and ecology. Program staff presented our knowledge coproduction process and four participant resource management groups talked about their programs and research needs related to climate change and adaptation. The second half of the meeting was dedicated to round table discussions exploring possible collaborative research projects, workshops, and coursework development at the university. Subsequently, a formal call for research project proposals was distributed university-wide which led to funding five transdisciplinary research projects covering a wide range of interests that were expressed in our interview process and further developed during the faculty-manager round table discussions (See Graduate Projects page). Because managers are co-leading each research project from inception to completion, the products and questions answered by the research will be immediately put to use and shared with broader professional networks on Hawaiʻi Island.
Step 3: Developing New Forums for Transdisciplinary Collaboration
A large and diverse collection of MCC members from the above research and management collaborations worked with MCC staff to organize a three-night, four-day intensive Climate Change Boot Camp in August 2016 bringing together a wide array of managers, scientists, traditional Hawaiian cultural practitioners, graduate students, and policy professionals (see Climate Change Boot Camp page). Boot Camp attendees collaboratively discussed current and near-future needs for adapting to local climate change impacts. Knowledge coproduction, multiple ways of knowing (tacit and articulate knowledge sources: see Manager Context section), and place-based management were themes of the event. The camp took place outdoors amid rare, endemic forest species at the Kiolokaʻa Ranger Station in Kaʻū and showcased our five manager-led graduate research projects as collaborative examples for other participating professional networks. Post event surveys indicated strong interest in further developing transdisciplinary professional networks as mechanisms to build local capacities of resiliency, adaptation, and sustainability in the face of change.
Practitioners involved: ranchers, farmers, traditional native Hawaiian managers of natural and cultural resources, fire managers, port officers, harbor masters, managers of remnant native marine and terrestrial ecosystems, county planners, and invasive species managers.
Spatial Scale: managers and policy implementers primariy focused on Hawaiʻi Island. Managers can be site-specific, focused on larger watershed/moku scales, or island-wide. The central requirement is direct and regular involvement within and subsequent accountability to a specific, well-defined landscape or waterscape as well as to the communities that utilize the natural resources within the area.
Organizational Scale: non-governmental organizations, federal, state, county, and private organizations.
Cooperation and context from grassroots stakeholders are vital to achieve a common vision, which is paramount in determining the societal capacity for adaptation. Field managers and local decision makers function as custodians of context in the socio-ecological systems in which they are embedded. Informed by their regular experiences in the places they influence and are influenced by, field practitioners are immediately accountable to a well-defined extent of land, water, and community of people (Brown et al. 2012; Laursen et al. in review).
Multiple Ways of Knowing
MCC projects integrate multiple knowledge forms and distinct worldviews through supporting diverse transdisciplinary networks of natural resource managers, cultural practitioners, policy professionals, social scientists, climate scientists, and biological scientists:
Tacit Knowledge - personal knowledge residing within the mind, behavior, and perceptions of individuals. This knowledge includes experiences, insight, emotion, values, intuition, instinct, and judgement—collectively an individual’s worldview (Dampney et al. 2002; Brown et al. 2012; Laursen et al. in review).
Articulate Knowledge - codified knowledge (e.g., formal education, books, rule sets, and legal codes) that is more readily transferable (Dampney et al. 2002; Brown et al. 2012; Laursen et al. in review)
Manager Needs Assessment
In Step 1 of Our Process (above), we heard wide-ranging management perspectives throughout our interviews discussing native ecosystems (terrestrial and marine), traditional cultural sites, traditional cultural homelands, marine recreation, open ocean harvesting and transport, near-shore safety, ranching, agriculture, county planning, community-based management, fire hazards, and invasive species. Our interviewees manage a geographic range across Hawaiʻi Island in roughly equal percentages of coastal and mountain systems. The native-rich high-elevation systems are largely zoned for conservation land use, while the lower elevations are dominated by non-native species and have mainly human-centered land use (Fig. 1).
Manager-Driven Interview Method
Our manager-based interview approach, including open-ended questions and discussion as well as traveling to managers’ areas of work, was universally well received by managers and highly productive. The interview lengths ranged from 45 minutes to 2.5 hours, with most managers providing more than an hour of their time for the exploratory interview process. Many managers verbalized surprise that the interviews’ purpose was to create opportunities to better understand their worldview by listening to their day-to-day experiences, perspectives, and priorities. Some managers mentioned they rarely have the opportunity to share their perspectives with institutional researchers.
5 Most Common Interview Themes
In completing our thematic analysis of interviews, we identified 46 independent themes. Five of these themes were mentioned by more than 50% of the interviewees:
- Utilizing professional colleagues as a key source of information
- Employing personal and institutional observation and practice as sources of knowledge
- Investing in sustainable communities (both natural and human) as a goal
- Restoration and conservation of native ecosystems and traditional Hawaiian cultural sites and practices as a goal
- Increasing capacity for networking with other professionals on the island as a need
Additional Interview Themes
We summarized theme responses to interview questions into the following categories:
- Knowledge Sources
- Climate Concerns
Some examples of themes mentioned by managers and policy implementers that fit into these categories are: (for more themes or addional information on our methods, see our needs assessment report)
- Far more often than consulting peer reviewed literature directly most managers rely on professional colleagues as their most common source of knowledge, including conferring with scientists in their professional communities or consulting other local experts.
- A significant goal for many managers is to involve communities directly in the lands and waters they manage by supporting recreation, restoration efforts, and food acquisition (farming, ranching, fishing, hunting) to increase personal experience, investment, and, ultimately, value in protecting natural resources.
- A universal challenge managers encounter is the impacts of environmental hazards such as invasive species, fire, and extreme weather events.
- Managers mentioned a need to obtain knowledge from scientists that is usable in both subject scope and spatial/temporal scale, and particularly in relation to climate change impacts.
- Extreme weather events were the most concerning topic related to climate change impacts.
- A diversity of managers made it clear that they would greatly benefit from improved information regarding localized shifts in storm frequency and intensity, sea level rise impacts, and future temperature and rainfall regimes, so they could assemble plans for small boat harbor use, cultural or historical sites, fire safety, native and invasive species management, possible flood water or waste water inundation, farmlands, ranchlands, water quality in near-shore reefs and loko iʻa (traditional fishpond systems), coastal erosion, or coastal water safety.
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