On Day 9 we returned to the Social Dimensions of Environmental Policy unit at U. Illinois to lead a discussion on “Changes in the social dimensions of environmental analysis since the early days of political ecology.” Here was the intended format of the session:
Peter Taylor and Raúl García Barrios will lead participants in reflecting on the choices and shifts in directions of research and policy engagement that they and others have made over the last two decades. To provide a baseline–not for discussion in its own right–their 1995 paper, “The social analysis of ecological change: From systems to intersecting processes,” Social Science Information, 34: 5-30, downloadable from http://www.faculty.umb.edu/pjt/92d.pdf, is a recommended reading. The session will start by introducing the format to be used, namely, the dialogue process (Isaacs 1999), which involves structured turn-taking that allows participants to listen attentively to others and build on emergent themes.
It turned out that the paper hadn’t been precirculated, so we asked people to introduce themselves (“How they came to be people who would join a discussion on the announced topic) in no more than 5 minutes and let the discussion build on that. Before the end everyone spent a few minutes writing to gather their thoughts and we went around to share thoughts we were taking away to chew on.
My notes are spotty because I was facilitating, but one person spoke of 5 phases of political ecology in the UK (so I planned to learn about this periodization). Raúl stated that a “market is a solved political problem.” The participants came from diverse places but listened attentively to each other. Everyone (or was it only the host?) expressed appreciation for the opportunity to talk and listen.