A big part of the human dimensions course has looked on how and why people react differently to situations:
It might depend on their previous experiences, their ethic, level of interest or emotional investment; but centrally, you can through the systematic use of previous statements or by interview construct vertical and horizontal structures relating attitudes to core values to better understand your stakeholders.
One major assignment which we’ve had during the Human Dimensions course caters towards improving our analytical thinking and writing skills. Tasked with writing a qualitative report on a Human-Wildlife Conflict, we set out in completely different directions depending upon our interests – some examples of what we’ve done include:
Beaver Conflict in Sweden, Reintroduction of free-roaming bison in Lithuania, Wolf conflict in Sweden, Swedish commercial fishing subsidies in the Baltic sea, Wild Boar in Berlin, Crop raiding by wildlife from the Bwindi Impenetrable national park; but also exploring the role of sustainable aquaculture and its environmental impact and looking into the different aspects of seal poaching in the United Kingdom.
The major focus of the assignment was to enable us to apply the skills we’ve learnt in this course to analyze major stakeholders in an issue, highlight current problems, and suggest possible actions to resolve or regulate the conflict.
Last week we were guested by Anders Esselin, who’s a professional facilitator & communicator with a background in the natural sciences and journalism. He’s also been a long-time teacher in this course, giving us lectures about participatory processes and strategy.
Companies are always stressed about which direction they will take – how will this affect their operations? How well does this fit in with our companies values? There’s no way that you’re alone in this world if you’ve thought: Well, what do we do now?
All the more often, these decisions are not expected to be taken by a single individual – you might have a board of directors, major stock holders, close business partners, leaders and investigative analysts who expect to have their voices heard. In many cases external stakeholders also play a strong role. Quite often, we’re not exactly agreeing.
At this point, or preferably before, it’s critical to have (externals) come in and help rock the boat off the ice – which can only be done if people work together. We must help each other see beyond our disagreements, and find those outcrops from which we can build a bridge?
A clear strategy provides your organization with a “road-map” to your goal. Is it clear enough? Is it realistic? Do you have the right picture of where you are today? Does it harmonize with your goals and ambition? Success isn’t easy, but you can make it far harder than it has to be.
This week we’ve had the pleasure of having Professor Thomas A. Heberlein here, who’s come all the way over from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the U.S. to be here with us!
He’s also the author to part of our course literature, and the best course-book that I’ve had so far during my soon to be 4 years at university, Navigating Environmental Attitudes.
What it really does well is presenting concepts from social science relating to conflict, policy, attitudes, beliefs and values in a way which appeals well to students who have started off in the natural sciences! In that sense, I might as well have called this post “Introducing students from the natural sciences to social science”.
As one teacher stated: “Social sciences are the hard sciences”.
In his book, Heberlein explains why:
“..when I had to explain attitudes, I felt like I was trying to describe a ghost. Where were they born? How much do they weigh? How fast do they grow? What is their position?”
A colleague to him responded:
“Well, I don’t believe in ghosts either… but I am afraid of them.”