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School of Environment and Natural Resources


ESGP Seminar -- Issues in Environmental Science

Mar 28, 2014, 3:00pm - 4:30pm


The ESGP Seminar welcomes Robyn Wilson, Associate Professor, School of Environment & Natural Resources, who will present Designing Environmental Policy that Works: A Case Study of Decision Making in Agricultural Landscapes, in 3150 Smith Lab

Thomas Heberlein (1974) proposed three fixes to environmental problems: technological, cognitive, and structural. Cognitive and structural fixes directly aim to change the human behaviors causing the problem. Cognitive fixes focus on changing attitudes and beliefs (e.g., persuasive tools aimed at voluntary changes in behavior), whereas structural fixes lead to behavioral change by altering the decision-making environment (e.g., incentives or regulatory based mechanisms). Although a technological fix may at first appear to bypass human behavior and decision making, many technologies are doomed to fail if not widely adopted, highlighting the importance of the behavioral component. To determine which type of approach to take to environmental problem solving it is critical to consider several characteristics that relate to human behavior. Specifically, research in the social sciences can identify whether or not the public and policy makers will support a particular proposed effort and whether or not the proposed effort is likely to consistently change behavior or lead to informed decision among those with the greatest influence on the natural system. Ongoing behavioral research in the context of land use and land management (namely agricultural land management and water quality) will be discussed as examples of the need for integrated human-natural systems research in the design and implementation of environmental policy. Such efforts are particularly relevant and necessary given the cognitive challenges of planning and managing systems in a dynamic and changing physical environment.

For more information contact: Sarah Straley