A review of assertions about the processes and outcomes of social learning in natural resource management

G. Cundill, R. Rodela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

137 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Social learning has become a central theme in natural resource management. This growing interest is underpinned by a number of assertions about the outcomes of social learning, and about the processes that support these outcomes. Yet researchers and practitioners who seek to engage with social learning through the natural resource management literature often become disorientated by the myriad processes and outcomes that are identified. We trace the roots of current assertions about the processes and outcomes of social learning in natural resource management, and assess the extent to which there is an emerging consensus on these assertions. Results suggest that, on the one hand, social learning is described as taking place through deliberative interactions amongst multiple stakeholders. During these interactions, it is argued that participants learn to work together and build relationships that allow for collective action. On the other hand, social learning is described as occurring through deliberate experimentation and reflective practice. During these iterative cycles of action, monitoring and reflection, participants learn how to cope with uncertainty when managing complex systems. Both of these processes, and their associated outcomes, are referred to as social learning. Where, therefore, should researchers and practitioners focus their attention? Results suggest that there is an emerging consensus that processes that support social learning involve sustained interaction between stakeholders, on-going deliberation and the sharing of knowledge in a trusting environment. There is also an emerging consensus that the key outcome of such learning is improved decision making underpinned by a growing awareness of human-environment interactions, better relationships and improved problem-solving capacities for participants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-14
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Volume113
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • ecological systems
  • adaptive comanagement
  • water management
  • community
  • governance
  • knowledge
  • scale
  • experiences
  • insights
  • bolivia

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