Understanding environmental knowledge controversies : the case for flood risk management, 2007-2010
This is a qualitative data collection. The study is part of the Rural Economy and Land Use (RELU) programme.
This project was conceived in order to address the public controversies generated by the risk management strategies and forecasting technologies associated with diffuse environmental problems such as flooding and pollution. Environmental issues play an ever-increasing role in all of our daily lives. However, controversies surrounding many of these issues, and confusion surrounding the way in which they are reported, mean that sectors of the public risk becoming increasingly disengaged. To try to reverse this trend and regain public trust and engagement, this project aimed to develop a new approach to interdisciplinary environmental science, involving non-scientists throughout the process. Examining the relationship between science and policy, and in particular how to engage the public with scientific research findings, a major diffuse environmental management issue was chosen as a focus - flooding.
As part of this approach, non-scientists were recruited alongside the investigators in forming Competency Groups - an experiment in democratising science. The Competency Groups were composed of researchers and laypeople for whom flooding is a matter of particular concern. The groups worked together to share different perspectives - on why flooding is a problem, on the role of science in addressing the problem, and on new ways of doing science together.