Co-Producing Actionable Science

Meeting modern environmental challenges like climate change requires new perspectives, approaches, collaborations and knowledge – and new ways of linking scholarship with society. One such way is by engaging scientists and decision-makers in the process of co-producing actionable science that can be used to make decisions to help fish, wildlife, water, land and people adapt to a changing climate. 

Click on the expanding boxes below to learn more about co-producing actionable science and to access relevant papers.

What is Actionable Science and Why Does it Matter for Climate Adaptation?

  • Meade Krosby leads a workshop to demonstrate use of the Tribal Climate Tool, developed by the UW Climate Impacts Group in collaboration with regional climate partners.

    What is Co-Production?

    Co-production describes the collaborative co-creation of new knowledge by scientists, decision-makers and other stakeholders, with the intention of making that science useable in practice

    • From PI CASC’s Manager Climate Corps site: a more recent definition of knowledge co-production directly accounts for multiple knowledge forms and the related ideas of situated or embodied knowledge (Ingold 2011:21): “iterative and collaborative processes involving diverse types of expertise, knowledge and actors to produce context-specific knowledge and pathways towards a sustainable future” (Norström et al. 2020:183).
  • Why is Co-Production Valuable for Climate Adaptation?

    • Today’s big, hard problems require it – need expertise from multiple fields
    • It helps create science that is useful and used to make decisions
    • Sponsors are increasingly requiring science with demonstrated impact
    • Effective at generating actionable science, because it’ll be considered
      •             Credible (rigorous)
      •             Salient (relevant)
      •             Legitimate (fair, unbiased)


How Do You Design a Co-Produced Research Process?

  • Considerations Before Starting a Co-Produced Project

    • Partners likely to have important differences in timelines, values, culture, incentives, ways of knowing and definitions of evidence and certainty
    • Respectful interest in how people do work
    • Can consider engaging a neutral, 3rd party facilitator (prevent power dynamics from playing out)
    • Time, funding and engagement required may be significantly higher for a co-production effort
    • Activities involved and products may not fit neatly into incentives structures of your institution
    • To promote equity, be aware of who’s at the table and who’s getting information – information can mean power – as scientists, we are not outside of society but embedded within it
  • Creating a Science-Practice Collaboration

    • Reach out to make new connections
    • Build trust and rapport
    • Develop mutual understanding of problem and respect
    • Partner to enhance collaborative opportunities
    • Be patient
    • Be prepared to jump in quickly – rapidly respond when opportunity presents itself

  • Camas root is a traditional food from the Salish Kootenai culture and the tradition of gathering of the food is being passed down to younger generations.

    Co-Defining a Problem to Tackle

    • Where is there overlap between societal needs and opportunities & potential for advances in knowledge and understanding
      • Define a “socially-relevant problem that implies and triggers scientific research questions”
    • Understand contexts under which players operate – there are social science approaches for rapidly assessing contexts (political, etc) under which an organization operates
    • What decisions are being made?
      • When, and by whom?
      • Where?
    • What is the desired outcome / management objective?
    • Who could use the scientific information and how could they use it?
      • Consider whether the intended use are for: Enlightenment (learning, awareness-raising)? Decision support (choices by a single actor), negotiation (bargaining)
    • Where do people have the freedom to act on new information? How do laws, regulations, and policies influence decision-makers’ ability to incorporate new information or alter procedures or actions?
    • Given that decisions must be made before the science can be “settled,” what is realistic expectation of what is possible and useful within the available time and budget?
      • What would success look like for all parties? (ex: recognition, collaborative process, science products – peer-reviewed papers, outcomes – conservation decisions)
  • Co-Designing the Process

    • Refine/ agree upon research objectives (circle back every step – iterative process)
    • Design a conceptual/methodological framework for knowledge exchange and integration – For each step of research process, define who contributes what, supported by which means, and to what end) ** give priority to processes and outcomes over stand-alone products
    • Discuss ground rules regarding:
      • data creation, utilization and ownership
      • public and scholarly dissemination of information about the collaboration and the products
    • Deadlines
    • Strategies for handling potential conflicts
    • Revisit ground rules
    • Focus on tangible, timely, useable results
      • Product is typically not just a peer-reviewed paper

  • Vibrant green coastal marsh near Three Rocks State Park on the Oregon coast

    Sharing Results of Co-Produced Actionable Science

    • Integrate and apply co-created knowledge
      • Into practice
      • Into science
    • Follow-up – revisit processes and outcomes with partners to nurture long-term collaboration
      • Ongoing interaction builds mutual capacity for science-practice collaborations

Actionable Science in Practice

  • Addressing Equity and Power Sharing in Co-Production

  • NW CASC's Approach to Co-Producing Actionable Science

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