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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Sustainability Policy Candidate Levy Research Seminar

Nov 9, 2016 (All day)
460 Kottman Hall and 117A Williams Hall

Sustainability and Policy candidate, Michael A. Levy, PhD Candidate, University of California Davis Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior, will present The Network Structure of Mental Models of Sustainable Agriculture for his research seminar. This seminar will be held in 460 Kottman Hall and 117A Williams Hall.

Effectively resolving agricultural and environmental policy conflicts requires understanding how individual stakeholders understand abstract and debated concepts like sustainability, resilience, and ecological health. To address this, I use mental models to examine how agricultural stakeholders in California think about the concept of sustainable agriculture. Mental models disaggregate a system into a network of components and their cause-effect relationships, which enables network analysis to characterize the structure of the models at the individual level and estimate a group consensus model. The results suggest that goals for sustainability are widely shared while the perceived-effective means to achieve those goals are more idiosyncratic. Expertise is reflected not in the size or density of the mental models but in higher-order network structures such as the presence of feedback loops. I conclude by discussing future research directions, and how the mental models analysis relates to a broader research agenda of understanding complexity, interdependence, and networks at multiple levels of social-ecological systems.

Contact Jeremy Brooks or Eric Toman for more information.