SUSTAINABILITY NETWORKS: COGNITIVE TOOLS FOR EXPERT COLLABORATION IN SOCIAL- ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS

  • Hukkinen J
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Abstract

Hukkinen stresses that analogies must be used in sustainable development cases to make them understandable to everyone involved. By breaking down unknown events and concepts into relations between objects that can be compared to familiar things, new phenomena can be "mapped" onto familiar ones to facilitate comprehension. That process allows those on the management and implementation (i.e., herders) sides to participate equally in the process, regardless of whether they lack either formal academic training or herding experience. Analog models usually break down because of the limited experience and knowledge held by individuals, and the break points include spatial scale, temporal scale, and the culture-nature divide. New understanding occurs when existing knowledge crosses break points to form blends. Reindeer herders in particular use analogies to understand complex sustainability issues, creating blends both as outside observers and inside operators. An example is the "When we get lost, we go home" analogy (p. 73). When lost or disoriented in winter, reindeer herders envision home, where they build a fire and make a cup of coffee to warm up. Although there may be a natural tendency to panic when lost, the calming action of "going home" allows herders to calmly work through the steps necessary to find a solution. Hukkinen describes his European Union project that brought together ten groups called "work packages." Hukkinen's work package included researchers from several countries and reindeer herders, all of whom were "sustainability experts." By establishing communication and achieving cooperation, these experts from various backgrounds- and often on opposing sides of the issues-had their views "integrated into coherent policy recommendations [by] identify[ing] the characteristics of knowledge integration that hold promise from longer-term institution building" (p. 115). By assuming the position of "hybrid professionals," both herders and academics and administrators expanded their knowledge across the boundaries that normally separate practitioners from policy makers to "understand each other and work together" (p. 138). The Nellim case, which originally involved practitioners (reindeer herders), bureaucrats, and analysts, expanded later to include the categories of activist, layperson, judge, journalist, and politician. Eventually the case produced hybrid professionals, including analyst-practitioners, or researchers who engaged in herding, and practitioner-activists, or herders who contacted Greenpeace to publicize their plight.

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Authors

  • Janne Hukkinen

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