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Title: Using Community Forums to Enhance Public Engagement in Environmental Issues
Author: Monroe, M.C.; Oxarart, A.; McDonell, L.; Plate, R.;
Source: Journal of Education for Sustainable Development 3(2):171-182
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Description: As environmental issues become more complex, the public may be less interested in becoming knowledgeable enough to participate in decision-making. Yet its input can be critically important in some community-based issues. A community forum is one tool designed to provide information, enable participants to ask questions to experts and create an open atmosphere for discussing an issue that requires relatively little investment from the participants. We used this tool to explore the issue of using wood to create electricity. Our results suggest that participants gained knowledge about the issue. As long as their concerns were addressed, nearly twice as many participants felt positive about such a proposed facility after the forum (81 per cent) than before (43 per cent, n = 108). Such activities could be successful strategies to engage the public in decision-making because they respect the real limits on time, attention and knowledge and enable people to participate at an appropriate scale. To reproduce this community forum, we suggest using credible but neutral experts, creating a nonjudgemental atmosphere, allowing people to ask their questions and sharing the results with elected officials.
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Monroe, M.C.; Oxarart, A.; McDonell, L.; Plate, R. 2009. Using Community Forums to Enhance Public Engagement in Environmental Issues. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development 3(2):171-182.
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