Tuesday, 16 January 2007: 3:30 PM
Working at the boundary: facilitating communication in climate change adaptation research
209 (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
Scientists seeking to have an impact on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and policy development frequently find themselves working with non-scientists in various capacities - as stake-holders, decision-makers, and even funders. The theoretical tools of the policy sciences can help to make these interactions and collaborations more effective for all parties. In this paper, we review some useful ideas from the literature of the sociology of science, and introduce some methods that we have developed in the course of our climate change adaptation research. These can be used to build a toolkit of approaches, and include the key ideas of context, conceptual frame, and boundary object. The importance of context to concrete policy and decision making cannot be overestimated - both the context of the biophysical system in question, and the context of the people interacting in the research program. The study of conceptual frames allows participants to determine the extent to which their understanding of the biophysical system is congruent. Finally, a boundary object provides a common point of reference, a touchstone that can actively promote communication between participants through its ability to create compatible conceptual frames.