Community-based social learning interventions: conceptual and methodological challenges with delivery and evaluation
By Romina Rodela
Presented at the TIAS Seminar “Conceptualization and measurement of learning” 16th of November 2016, 8:00 –9:30 am GMT
An increasing number of projects is turning to the literature on social learning for input and guidance for the development of activities and interventions targeting local communities. Yet, there are substantial challenges when ideas, normative claims and expectations, as those found across most of that body of works, have to be operationalized and then used to inform practice in the field. As a consequence to these challenges the result often is sub-optimal and has led to empirical research that is methodologically weak and inconclusive (see: Cundill and Rodela 2012; Rodela et al. 2012). In this talk I will look at common pitfalls and reflect on ways how research teams can deliver (academically) solid and issue-driven community-based social leaning interventions.
 Cundill, G., Rodela, R., 2012. A review of assertions about the processes and outcomes of social learning in natural resource management. Journal of Environmental Management 113, 7-14.
Rodela, R., Cundill, G., Wals, A.E.J., 2012. An analysis of the methodological underpinnings of social learning research in natural resource management. Ecological Economics 77, 16-26.
Presented at 7th International Sustainability Transitions (IST) Conference 6th – 9th September 2016, Wuppertal, Germany http://trafo-3-0.de/fileadmin/user_upload/IST2016_brochure.pdf
Research into transformative change processes is growing fast and in the thematic area of natural resource management is converging into a discourse that emphasises the role of learning, knowledge and trust (see: Rodela, 2011). This sub-group of literature, also known as social learning literature is diverse and uses a variety of data collection and analysis methods to explore, understand and prove that social learning has taken place. Some of the most commonly used are interviews, questionnaires, participant observation, but here are many other. However, different data collection and analysis methods have different characteristics and while these might help to disclose some aspects of interest, are still not disclosing all that. The purpose of this study is to look closer a few common misunderstandings about what commonly used data collection and analysis methods can really help to track down. This study will show some un-explored potential of currently used methods and suggest ways to develop compact and solid research designs.
Issues and opportunities with participatory governance for the management of marine resources in the Adriatic Sea.
Romina Rodela, Magnus Boström,
Presented at the 20th International Symposium on Society and Resource Management: Challenges of urban and rural Transformations, 9-13, June 2014, Hannover, Germany.
The marine natural environment is under high pressure. Not only are marine resources as flora and fauna intensively used (with consequent decrease of stocks) but in recent times seas have become the next frontier of a specific type of anthropization (i.e. the conversion of open space by human action) that of energy infrastructure. While this is a current process and, within the European Union, only recently policy actions have been taken in order facilitate a more coherent coordination of interventions (Marine Strategy) little research has been done about (formal and informal) institutional arrangements already existing between the many stakeholders who have specific stakes in the Adriatic Sea. In this of an interest is the North Adriatic Sea, an area characterised by a history of (between state) conflicts and tensions that impacted on the development of collaborative arrangement for the management of the marine environment. Of an interest to this research, therefore, was to map out formal and informal institutional arrangements currently in place between stakeholders from Italy, Slovenia and Croatia - countries to access to the North Adriatic Sea. Also, of an interest was to understand if, and how, are participatory practices being used in relation to decision-making and management of the marine natural environment and this in particular for major infrastructural projects (two of the above three countries aimed to sit an offshore energy infrastructure)
Presented at Expert workshop titled “Understanding cooperation: a multidisciplinary perspective” 16-17 June 2015, at Utrecht University
Magnus Boström, Romina Rodela
Presented at the XVIII ISA Word Congress of Sociology: Facing an Unequal World: Challenges for Global Sociology 13-19 July, Yokohama, Japan.
Most environmental problems are extremely long term and have cross-border implications. For environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) to achieve significant impact on environmental governance cross-border and sustained activities are required. The purpose of the paper is to identify key barriers and possible pathways to develop sustained and transnational environmental activism among ENGOs operating in strikingly different political contexts. Our analysis is based on qualitative methodology and empirical analyses of ENGOs in six countries (Sweden, Germany, Poland, Italy, Slovenia and Croatia) and two regional contexts, the Baltic Sea and the Adriatic Sea regions. The study is based on document analyses and semi-structured interviews with representatives from 4-6 key ENGOs in each country. The theoretical framework departs primarily from social movement theory. The paper reveals intriguing similarities and differences between the countries regarding ENGOs' abilities to develop sustained and cross-border activism. We pay particular attention to differences in opportunity structures for resource mobilization. The last decades, the European Union (EU) has emerged as a key opportunity structure that in various ways facilitate cross-border collaboration and capacity building among ENGOs, particularly in Central and Eastern European (CEE) Countries. However, the EU also considerably shapes the conditions for ENGOs to set independent long-term agendas. With the exception of Germany and Sweden, ENGOs rely heavily on their ability to develop a "project mind-set", which in turn requires fund-raising skills and procedures. Also ENGOs in Germany and Sweden make use of public grants. However, the fact that they historically have been able to mobilize huge number of members/supporters –which is still extremely difficult particularly in post-communist countries - have profound implications for abilities to develop transnational and sustained environmental activism. We discuss the role of (dis)trust (institutional vs. family-based trust), political culture and historical legacies to analyze these remarkably different conditions for resource mobilization.