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Teaching Environmental Management Competencies Online: Towards Authentic Collaboration?

Abstract:
Environmental Management (EM) is taught in many Higher Education Institutions in the UK. Most this provision is studied full-time on campuses by younger adults preparing themselves for subsequent employment, but not necessarily as environmental managers, and this experience can be very different from the complexities of real-life situations. This formal academic teaching or initial professional development in EM is supported and enhanced by training and continuing professional development from the major EM Institutes in the UK orientated to a set of technical and transferable skills or competencies expected of professional practitioners. In both cases there can be a tendency to focus on the more tractable, technical aspects of EM which are important, but may prove insufficient for EM in practice. What is also necessary, although often excluded, is an appreciation of, and capacity to deal with, the messiness and unpredictability of real world EM situations involving many different actors and stakeholders with multiple perspectives and operating to various agendas. Building on the work of Reeves, Herrington, and Oliver (2002), we argue that EM modules need to include the opportunity to work towards the practice of authentic activities with group collaboration as a key pursuit. This paper reports on a qualitative study of our experiences with a selected sample taken from two on-line undergraduate EM modules for second and third year students (referred to respectively as Modules A and B) at the Open University, UK where online collaboration was a key component. Our tentative findings indicate that on-line collaboration is difficult to ensure as a uniform experience and that lack of uniformity reduces its value as an authentic experience. Whilst it can provide useful additional skills for EM practitioners the experience is uneven in the student body and often requires more time and support to engage with than originally planned.

Open University Link

Bell, S., Lane, A., Collins, K., Berardi, A. and Slater, R. Teaching Environmental Management Competencies Online: Towards authentic collaboration? European Journal of Open Distance and e-Learning. 20, 1, pp. 22 – 44

DPSIR = A Problem Structuring Method? An Exploration from the ‘‘Imagine’’ Approach

Abstract:
The Drivers, Pressures, State, Impact and Response or DPSIR framework has been with us for over a decade now and it is widely used as a means to assess and measure and, eventually provide a guide to managing the environment. With its repertoire of diagnostic and analytical components the DPSIR can be argued to be a Problem Structuring Method or PSM. Criticisms of the framework abound but it has a resilience which is noteworthy. Some argue that DPSIR, by its nature, is a narrowly formulated, engineering device, incompatible with the multiple perspectives which human interaction in global ecology requires. Is there a value in DPSIR being more flexible in expression and experience of users? In this article it is shown how the DPSIR framework was applied within a multi-methodology approach called Imagine in a number of coastal management projects around the Mediterranean and in other contexts. The article argues that DPSIR, whilst admittedly limited in its scope and approach can, if applied in a participatory and systemic multi-methodology, combine with other tools and help to create outcomes of value to local populations.

DPSIR Framework Simon Bell

Science Direct Link

Bell, S. (2012). DPSIR = A Problem Structuring Method? An exploration from the ‘‘Imagine’’ approach. European Journal of Operational Research. 222, pp. 230 – 360.