|Abstract or Summary
- Collaboration between scientists and decision makers is a critical element in
mobilizing science into action. Likewise, the United Nations defines collaboration
between scientists and policymakers as a requisite component in the process of
sustainable development. Despite the UN sustainability movement beginning in 1983,
scientists may still be frustrated by their findings being misinterpreted or manipulated
by policymakers while policy scholars contend that scientific policy designs may not
adequately address social concerns. Studies indicate that shared understandings,
achieved through dialogue, perceived interdependence and collaborative processes can address the concerns of both science and policy communities and make progress
toward the goals of sustainability.
This case study assessed the collaborative potential of Project Atmospheric
Brown Clouds (ABC), an institution that aims to advance sustainable development
through climate and pollution observations, impact assessments and the promotion of
awareness and mitigation measures. Collaborative potential is defined as the ability
for parties to work together toward a common goal. In this case scientists and
policymakers are working toward the common goal of managing transboundary air
pollution and its associated impacts on human and climate systems.
To explore Project ABC’s approach to integrating science and policy, I
conducted a content analysis of ABC documents and created composite conceptual
maps of ABC programs. I then compared these models, or concept maps, to an ideal,
collaborative model of program management to assess ABC’s collaborative potential.
I find that ABC effectively engages in dialogue and perceives interdependence while
managing programs that conduct basic research and impact assessments. However,
the Impact Assessment and Awareness and Mitigation programs have low
collaborative potential with social interest groups and policymakers because ABC
does not perceive interdependence or engage in dialogue with these parties. The
implications are that ABC is not effectively communicating information to nonscientists,
thereby impeding the promotion of sustainable development policy.