How do we decide what to do with dams? Dynamic Design Planning (DDP) to shape collaboration for sustainability science
Deciding what to do with dams is an increasingly pressing challenge of the Anthropocene. In the New England Sustainability Consortium, we focus on this challenge in the northeastern US where there are more than 14,000 dams, many of which are aging or obsolete and where 50 are eligible for federal relicensing in the next decade. Making decisions about dams requires the evaluation of tradeoffs and values for fish passage, community identity, hydropower, social justice, flood storage, and more. Focusing on communication in sustainability science can support interdisciplinary social-ecological systems research to evaluate tradeoffs and values and advance social, technical, and policy solutions. We developed Dynamic Design Planning (DDP) as a unique model for studying and shaping communication and collaboration practices within sustainability science. Drawing from rhetoric, environmental communication, and systems approaches to organizations, DDP combines formal interviews and surveys with creative activities such as collaborative storymaking. We describe three core assumptions in DDP, including that (1) collaboration is a shared commitment within the entire organization; (2) mixed methods approaches can provide real-time information about needs, preferences, and experiences within organizations as they form; and (3) the design of this model is pragmatic and emergent, forming in response to needs and problems as the organization develops. We share research insights from interviews (n=14) and a quantitative survey (n=67) paired with tailored approaches such as Integration Mapping, Transmedia Storymaking, and Collaboration Show and Tells. We describe how the DDP is helping us create a learning organization to link science with decision making and we also identify how tensions within our collaboration, such as perspectives about leadership, stakeholder priorities, dam sites, and use of communication technologies, are shaping our work. We conclude by discussing the utility of this model for bringing interdisciplinary perspectives to bear on addressing complex sustainability challenges.
Room 21 (30)
Monday, 21 August
14:50 - 15:30
14:50 - 15:30