|Title||Trusting emergence: some experiences of learning about integrated catchment science with the environment agency of England and Wales|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2010|
|Authors||Collins K.B., Ison R.L.|
|Journal||Water Resource Management|
|Keywords||communities of practice, Emergence, integrated catchment management, integrated catchment science, social learning, sustainable learning, systems thinking|
Explores the role of science and learning in relation to effective integrated catchment management
In this research, a co-researching approach, based on systems thinking and practice, showed early evidence of social learning occurring. This social learning was underpinned by a collective purpose and the budding development of a community of practice. The article identifies that integration of catchment science is achievable at the policy level, and that social learning processes help to identify emergence concepts that are essential within complex systems thinking. However, these “systemic conversations” did not occur between the levels of policy, science and operations (i.e. learning across scales). Overall, language and practice was seen to undermine efforts at integration, and organisational and institutional arrangements also limited the innovative, experimental and adaptive processes required. The article highlight that approaches to integrated catchment management must understand context, stakeholders, the key changes required, and the epistemological perspective of those managing the catchment. This understanding will determine the learning that is achievable.
The transformative aspects of adaptive learning discuss fundamental changes in worldview that accompany deep reflective practice. This article points out the quality and type of learning that is possible is critically determined by what is perceived as a valid way of knowing (i.e. the episteme of the learner). This in turn determines language and practice. It could be argued therefore that a major role and challenge for adaptive learning is to support and encourage the evolution of episteme in dominant scientific approaches to integrated catchment management. Mechanisms for this emergence have been identified in this, and many other articles. These mechanisms include encouraging novelty and experimentation, full and open participation, divergence in views and approaches, real democracy and so forth. This paper concludes that this is now a matter of urgency, and current scientific processes are struggling to meet this challenge. The article also identified the issues associated with sustaining learning and action from the early, embryonic beginnings of particular communities of practice. This is also shaping as a key lesson for adaptive learning.