Sustainable futures: Constracting local visions and scientific scenarios for sound community-based decision making
Rhoades, Robert E.
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The purpose of this methodology is to provide decision makers (at all scales and social levels) with insights about the impact of their decisions and actions. This stands in clear contrast with the conventional cost-benefit analysis, conventional public meetings aimed at consensus building, or other tools of the trade in natural resource management (Gregory 2000). The difference also lies in the fact that there is an up front admission that we need to understand the perspectives of all stakeholders, including those of scientists. The notion that objective science has the answers for local people is drawn into question. Science is merely one of the perspectives on the table. The approach attempts to pinpoint the consequences or impacts of alternative actions related to the objectives, goals, and values of the community. It means there is a very close tie between analysis and deliberation of issues wherein stakeholders judgments are informed not only by science but also by their own world views. I realize that this approach is very different than conventional approaches in that it requires scientists and policymakers to accept that local values and objectives are primary. Scientists can play a role by demonstrating the trade-offs or impacts of such values and proposed alternatives, but they cannot determine the values themselves. This approach is a humbling one and Dr. Robert D. Hart would have liked that.