Social learning for collective action on
climate change
A critical assessment
Blane Harvey, International Development Rese...
Overview
• Tackling "wicked" problems under global
environmental change
• What is social learning?
• Social learning in pr...
Learning to tackle complex
challenges
On complexity and multiple ways of knowing...
Tackling "wicked" problems
• Wicked problems are characterized by:
a) uncertainty;
b) inconsistency of needs, preferences ...
adapted from Funtowicz & Ravetz 2003
Technical uncertainty
Epistemological uncertainty:
(Reduced by use of societal and co...
Climate change adaptation is
one such 'wicked’
problem, and social learning is
seen as an important avenue
for responding.
The learning paradox
“Our existing methodological toolbox
is sparsely equipped to facilitate and sustain
[...] adaptive an...
Social Learning – A way forward?
Social Learning: Toward a definition
Social learning brings together stakeholders
with diverse perspectives to learn toget...
Social learning - a closer look
• Roots:
– Learning and behavioural psychology (Bandura)
– Collective learning (Argyris an...
3 Cases from Africa
Participatory
scenario
development
(Ghana, Senegal)
Consensus seasonal
forecasts
(GHA)
Systemic resear...
Participatory scenario development
Ghana and Senegal (CARE, CCAFS)
Participatory scenario development
Approach Model of SL Key outcomes Key lessons
Learning dialogue
through facilitated
wor...
Systemic action research through community radio
Ghana (IDS, GCRN, AfricaAdapt)
Systemic action research
Approach Model of SL Key outcomes Key lessons
Action-reflection
learning process
led by community...
Consensus forecasts for the Greater Horn of Africa
ICPAC , GLUK, KMD, IDRC (Kenya)
http://vimeo.com/album/108105/video/5199497
Analysis of 29
cases looking at:
• Lessons and
Principles
• Tools and
approaches
• Evaluation
• Impacts
Reflecting critically on SL
• Power and consensus - strange bedfellows
– Is a change of views always a good thing?
• Recog...
So where next?
A gut instinct tells us that social learning
inherently makes sense, but making that
leap forward into practicing the
prin...
In a nutshell
It’s social learning on social learning!
Transforming the evidence base
• Hypothesis A: Social learning improves
institutional processes and
performance/effectiven...
Kristjanson et al 2014
Want to know more?
Mark Reed Derek Armitage
Claudia Pahl-Wostl Ray Ison
Georgina Cundill Romina Rodela
Arjen Wals Bernd Si...
Social learning for collective action on climate change
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  • Introduce myself, my job, and my interest in this area.Specify focus on adaptation in the South, particularly Africa (define mitigation and adaptation)
  • No one person has the whole answer, we all have a piece of the truth and there is a pressing need to come up with imaginative solutions (Lonsdale 2010)
  • Applied science – Atmospheric lifetime of methaneProfessional consultancy - Effectiveness of “clean coal”Post-normal – is 2oC a safe “limit” to for global warming and what level of emissions reduction will achieve it?
  • Social learning processes have a long history in the areas of agriculture and natural resource management and within institutions working these areas, particularly in the global South. Often linked to more widely-referenced processes such as participation and participatory action research, these approaches have successfully helped communities rethink their natural resource management strategies, and address complex challenges with intertwined social, political, and environmental dimensions. Climate change adaptation is one such 'wicked‘ problem characterised by difficulty in its definition and attribution, uncertainty, and unclearsolutions, and social learning is seen as an important avenue for responding. Lonsdale et al. (2010) note that “as social learning for change requires shifts in understanding either as individuals or as groups this type of learning seems to have great potential for exploring the process of adaptation to climate change. No one person has the whole answer, we all have a piece of the truth and there is a pressing need to come up with imaginative solutions.”
  • Participation alone, however, is not enough to constitute social learning. While participatory processes ‘may stimulate social learning’, participation is a narrower concept that defines a role in decision making and does not necessarily lead to social learningIson et al. (2013) note that the language through which social learning is framed (as performance, governance, action, etc.) both reveals and conceals the assumptions and epistemic positions of those wishing to apply the concept. This, they argue, calls upon practitioners to clearly articulate the ways in which they choose to use the term. In articulating a collective theory of change around social learning, these assumptions can be brought to the fore.
  • Explain the critique around the current production and use of climate information for farmers.
  • http://www.pachamama.org/blog/video-combining-indigenous-knowledge-with-science-for-climate-change-solutions
  • Note the effect of producing structural change that goes beyond the local.
  • Social learning for collective action on climate change

    1. 1. Social learning for collective action on climate change A critical assessment Blane Harvey, International Development Research Centre
    2. 2. Overview • Tackling "wicked" problems under global environmental change • What is social learning? • Social learning in practice - 3 cases from Africa • Critiques of SL in theory and practice • Where next?
    3. 3. Learning to tackle complex challenges
    4. 4. On complexity and multiple ways of knowing...
    5. 5. Tackling "wicked" problems • Wicked problems are characterized by: a) uncertainty; b) inconsistency of needs, preferences and values; c) an unclear sense of all consequences and/or cumulative impact of collective action; d) fluid, heterogeneous, pluralist participation in problem definition and solving Turnpenny et al (2009)
    6. 6. adapted from Funtowicz & Ravetz 2003 Technical uncertainty Epistemological uncertainty: (Reduced by use of societal and community synergy, and community review) Methodological uncertainty “Not only must science concede some of its governance to wider society, it must also concede some ground to other ways of knowing. (Hulme 2009: 81) “Facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent”
    7. 7. Climate change adaptation is one such 'wicked’ problem, and social learning is seen as an important avenue for responding.
    8. 8. The learning paradox “Our existing methodological toolbox is sparsely equipped to facilitate and sustain [...] adaptive and anticipatory learning in the face of complex risks and uncertainties.” Tschakert & Dietrich 2010 And yet We recognise the paramount importance of learning in addressing complex environmental challenges.... “deficit models” Banking models Knowledge hierarchies
    9. 9. Social Learning – A way forward?
    10. 10. Social Learning: Toward a definition Social learning brings together stakeholders with diverse perspectives to learn together and form an understanding of a shared challenge. It involves taking learning and behaviour change beyond the individual to networks and systems. Through an iterative process of working and reflecting together new shared ways of knowing emerge that lead to changes in practice. See Reed et al. 2010 “What is Social Learning?”
    11. 11. Social learning - a closer look • Roots: – Learning and behavioural psychology (Bandura) – Collective learning (Argyris and Schon, Wenger) – Transformative learning (Mezirow) – Emancipatory learning (Freire) • Participation? • As performance? Governance? Collective action? Many flavours of SL.
    12. 12. 3 Cases from Africa Participatory scenario development (Ghana, Senegal) Consensus seasonal forecasts (GHA) Systemic research through community radio (Ghana)
    13. 13. Participatory scenario development Ghana and Senegal (CARE, CCAFS)
    14. 14. Participatory scenario development Approach Model of SL Key outcomes Key lessons Learning dialogue through facilitated workshops with joint learning around timely seasonal weather forecasts and information on agricultural management options to capitalize on that learning. SL as concerted action and mode of governance that effects changes in communities, networks and systems. Involves rethinking the assumptions and principles that underlie practices and designing new governance norms. Communities and local governments create new institutions that help link different timelines, for example the immediacy of farmer priorities and responses with longer-term understanding and capacity to plan and respond to climate change. Champions at different levels and creating a level playing field are crucial. Need for culturally sensitive communication , create room for reflection, trust, inclusion, and to recognize and accommodating different timeframes and purposes.
    15. 15. Systemic action research through community radio Ghana (IDS, GCRN, AfricaAdapt)
    16. 16. Systemic action research Approach Model of SL Key outcomes Key lessons Action-reflection learning process led by community broadcasters, engaging with community members, duty bearers, and outside partners on the social impacts SL as concerted action that effects changes in communities and networks. Involves testing and improving existing practices, as well as rethinking the assumptions and principles that underlie these practices. Radio broadcasters take on an advocacy role for political action on local climate impacts. District government support for communities impacted by flooding. Strengthened networks for future action. Additional support for women needed to become active contributors. Facilitated policy dialogues and learning events to build a network of actors. Language and vocabulary barriers a key challenge. Long-term vision needed.
    17. 17. Consensus forecasts for the Greater Horn of Africa ICPAC , GLUK, KMD, IDRC (Kenya)
    18. 18. http://vimeo.com/album/108105/video/5199497
    19. 19. Analysis of 29 cases looking at: • Lessons and Principles • Tools and approaches • Evaluation • Impacts
    20. 20. Reflecting critically on SL • Power and consensus - strange bedfellows – Is a change of views always a good thing? • Recognition of problem w/o power to change leads to frustration – Challenge of entrenched marginalisation • Sustainability of change? • Scale and institutionalisation major challenges • Evidence of impact and outcomes? – How to evaluate them? See also Muro & Jeffrey 2008
    21. 21. So where next?
    22. 22. A gut instinct tells us that social learning inherently makes sense, but making that leap forward into practicing the principles of good social learning and overturning the more top-down models of information delivery needs more concrete evidence. Transforming institutions Transforming research
    23. 23. In a nutshell It’s social learning on social learning!
    24. 24. Transforming the evidence base • Hypothesis A: Social learning improves institutional processes and performance/effectiveness in the context of climate change. Hypothesis B: Social learning processes lead to improved development outcomes/results in the context of climate change.
    25. 25. Kristjanson et al 2014
    26. 26. Want to know more? Mark Reed Derek Armitage Claudia Pahl-Wostl Ray Ison Georgina Cundill Romina Rodela Arjen Wals Bernd Siebenhüner Thank you! http://ccsl.wikispaces.com/

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