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Research Note Working With And For The Citizens

Selasa, 24 Mei 2011 | No Comments | Labels : ,

Working with and for the citizens

Carlo Sessa* and Andrea Ricci

Institute of Studies for the Integration of Systems (ISIS), Rome, Italy
(Received February 2010; final version received March 2010)

This article argues that a better management of increasingly complex socioecological systems would require to adopt evidence-based policy-making and improve the science policy interface by means of participatory action research involving scientists, citizens and policy-makers. The connectivity between the production of scientific evidence by experts and the delivery of policies by policymakers is currently unsatisfactory. There is the need to find more effective knowledge mechanisms between researchers and policy-makers. A new way of connecting scientists and policy-makers is to invite a ‘‘third player’’ to the game, i.e. the citizens and stakeholders who are interested in or affected by policy decisions, to perform pilot experiments of participatory research. Participatory research combines different forms of knowledge. ‘‘Objective’’ knowledge produced by scientific disciplines is needed to describe, explain or understand a phenomenon, but participatory research brings in the contribution of citizens’ everyday knowledge, e.g. their intimate familiarity with their environment and social context. The approach is illustrated with the aid of examples provided by a number of EU-funded participatory research projects coordinated by ISIS: RAISE (, MOVE TOGETHER ( and AWARE (
Keywords: science policy interface; participatory research; awareness-raising; complexity; integrated socio-ecological systems management; citizens’ knowledge

The challenges faced by policy-makers, managers and practitioners today are becoming increasingly complex. Solutions that address individual problems as they arise may be successful in the short term, but they may also set in motion feedbacks that come into play later. Likewise, piecemeal interventions do not prepare a system for dealing with ongoing change and future shocks. Linked systems of people and nature, especially with the extent and interconnections of today’s populations technologies and human activities, behave as complex adaptive systems. Forwardlooking analyses of these systems suggest that the transition to sustainability derives
from fundamental change in the way people think about the complex systems on which they depend, whereas the current lack of awareness, understanding and reflexivity the behaviour of the blind instead contributes to increasingly unsustainable patterns of development.

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