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ERIC Number: EJ902426
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Oct
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 56
ISSN: ISSN-1350-4622
Participatory Action Research and Environmental Learning: Implications for Resilient Forests and Communities
Ballard, Heidi L.; Belsky, Jill M.
Environmental Education Research, v16 n5-6 p611-627 Oct 2010
How can a participatory approach to research promote environmental learning and enhance social-ecological systems resilience? Participatory action research (PAR) is an approach to research that its' supporters claim can foster new knowledge, learning, and action to support positive social and environmental change through reorienting the standard process of knowledge production. PAR is posited as being particularly suitable for use with historically disadvantaged groups. As such it may be a useful tool for environmental learning which would enable a social-ecological system to better respond to change as theorized by resilience thinkers. In this paper, we examine a PAR project to determine how PAR fostered environmental learning and, in turn, how the learning influenced resilience. The project partnered an ecologist, federal and state forest managers, and harvesters of salal ("Gaultheria shallon"), a non-timber forest product gathered and sold for use in the floral industry in the forests of the Olympic Peninsula, Washington, USA. Based on interviews with each group of partners during and after the PAR project, we found that the PAR approach did indeed generate environmental learning, defined here as ecological literacy, civic literacy, values awareness, and self-efficacy, and contributed to resiliency through promoting greater diversity, memory, redundancy, and adaptive capacity. However, the political vulnerability of the salal harvesters, who were largely undocumented Latino workers, inhibited the extent to which adaptive measures could be taken to revise permitting procedures and additional collaborative research. We conclude that the PAR approach is a valuable tool for environmental learning but the extent to which learning can actually promote system change and greater resilience must also be understood within the underlying context, especially political realities. (Contains 2 figures and 2 tables.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: Students
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States; Washington