The Self & Stakeholder Identification
We began week seven by starting to peel back the layers of our own identities and biases that impact how we approach environmental action and engagement. This can be an important step to understanding how to communicate across differences with stakeholders in engagement projects. The first part of this self-identification took the form of two surveys. The first was the Hidden Tribes of America quiz, which categorizes individuals into seven groupings: progressive activists, traditional liberals, passive liberals, the politically disengaged, moderates, traditional conservatives, and devoted conservatives. The goal of this quiz is to help the participants better understand what kind of a worldview they have, and where they fall on the liberal vs. non-liberal scale. Unsurprisingly the majority of our environmental studies class fell on the more liberal side, which presents itself as 8% of the American population. To support our Hidden Tribes result we also took the Six Americas Super Short Survey. This survey is directly related to how individuals react to the climate crisis, whereas the Tribes quiz was more telling about political leanings. The spectrum of Six Americas spanned from the dismissive and doubtful to the concerned and alarmed, and again the majority of the class fell into the similar categories of concerned and alarmed. Both surveys relate to two further readings for this week: the topic of orthodoxies within higher education via Heterodox Academy and the participation of stakeholders (Luyet et al). Further, these topics of “Who” connects directly to our partner organization Crossing Party Lines (CPL).
As stated above, the results of our environmental studies were fairly homogenous. These results are, according to Heterodox Academy, a threat to “viewpoint diversity,” one of the three threats facing scholarly culture today (“The Problem”). Viewpoint diversity, along with “open inquiry” and “constructive disagreement” is established as essential elements to dismantling the issue of homogeneity within groups attempting to solve complex world problems. When these problems aren’t addressed, the academy argues, there is an established fear of social/political isolation in saying the “wrong thing” which additionally relates to the lack of viewpoint diversity as people feel alienated from spaces. Finally, the authors of the text state that constructive disagreement (engaging across difference) is key to successful change, a feature that has been missing in current academic spaces (largely due to the lack of viewpoint diversity as stated above). This topic of engagement directly relates to the goals of CPL in trying to bridge this gap between different political sides through effective disagreement or communication. While not operating in academic/scholarly spaces, CPL still offers a way for people to carry out deliberate conversations with those who are willing to participate.
To make headway on solving the world’s most complex problems, scholars and policy makers must deploy the best ideas. This typically requires consulting a wide range of perspectives.Heterodox Academy
Crossing Party Lines & Stakeholder Identification
In their article “A Framework to Implement Stakeholder Participation in Environmental Projects”, Luyet et al. write about the importance of stakeholder identification as a means of successful stakeholder participation, specifically concerning environmental projects (Luyet et al. 2012). According to the article, the involvement of all stakeholders from the beginning of a project is crucial to successful participation. This early involvement aims to reduce biases and means that forgotten stakeholders added in later will not cause further problems. The notion of echo-chamber environments, also relating to the Heterodox Academy text, are important to recognize when forming groups working towards a goal. Within CPL, where the assumed goal can be the dismantling of political polarization, identifying stakeholders is necessary for making sure that multiple different perspectives are present at discussions. This is sadly much easier said than done. When signing up for a CPL event the only form of information disclosed about participants is contact information, and what times of day and location are most convenient for Meetups. This leaves the organization without any real knowledge of participants’ political leanings before events, making stakeholder identification difficult. We have identified this as one of our main concerns about achieving a diverse opinion scope during CPL discussions. This question of equal representation leads to the truth that CPL events are held in fairly liberal cities which could be a possible deterrent for people who do not fall on the left-leaning side of the political spectrum. This also relates to the topic of viewpoint diversity seen in the paragraph above. While we hope CPL events represent a range of political diversity, other aspects of race, gender, socioeconomic status, etc. are also relevant to getting a diversity of experiences.
- Luyet, Vincent, Rodolphe Schlaepfer, Marc B. Parlange, and Alexandre Buttler. 2012. “A Framework to Implement Stakeholder Participation in Environmental Projects.” Journal of Environmental Management 111 (November): 213–19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2012.06.026.