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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.

London’s Olympic Legacy and the Imagine Methodology

Abstract:
In 2010 Future of London commissioned academics to work with representatives from the London Boroughs, to consider the legacy of the Olympic Village taking shape in Stratford, in the East End of London. The exercise, in the form of a workshop, was to: review the current context/situation; prioritize issues; envisage future options; explore and develop relevant sustain- ability indicators; develop a forward plan for community development. This article describes the process adopted in the analysis of the Olympic Village’s transformation from World Media Site to a sustainable part of the Greater London metropolis. The methodology applied, Imagine, is described and some of the key outputs from the analysis and design of legacy process are described. In conclusion the article examines the oeuvre of projects of this kind when set against the challenges of longer term sustainability.

Olympic Legacy Imagine Rich Pictures Simon Bell

Open University PDF Link

Sage Journal Link

Bell, S. and Faren Bradley, J, (2012). London’s Olympic legacy and the Imagine methodology. Local Economy, 27, 1, pp. 55 – 67. DOI: 10.1177/0269094211425325

Smart Cities and M3: Rapid Research, Meaningful Metrics and Co-Design

Abstract:

Smart Cities and M3: Rapid Research, Meaningful Metrics and Co-Design Simon Bell
The research described in this paper is undertaken under the banner of the smart city, a concept that captures the way urban spaces are re-made by the incursion of new technology. Much of smart is centred on converting everyday activities into data, and using this data to generate knowledge mediated by technology. Ordinary citizens, those that may have their lives impacted by the technology, usually are not properly involved in the ‘smartification’ process. Their perceptions, concerns and expectations should inform the conception and development of smart technologies at the same extent. How to engage general public with smart cities research is the central challenge for the Making Metrics Meaningful (MMM) project. Applying a rapid participatory method, ‘Imagine’ over a five-month period (March – July) the research sought to gain insights from the general public into novel forms of information system innovation. This brief paper describes the nature of the accelerated research undertaken and explores some of the themes which emerged in the analysis. Generic themes, beyond the remit of an explicit transport focus, are developed and pointers towards further research directions are discussed. Participatory methods, including engaging with self- selected transport users actively through both picture creation and programmatically specific musical ‘signatures’ as well as group discussion, were found to be effective in eliciting users’ own concerns, needs and ideas for novel information systems.

Springer Link

Bel, S., Benatti, F., Edwards, N. R., Laney, R., Morse, D. R., Piccolo, L. and Zanetti, O. (2017) Smart Cities and M3: Rapid Research, Meaningful Metrics and Co-Design. Systemic Practice and Action Research. DOI 10.1007/s11213-017-9415-x

Towards an Effective Multi-Stakeholder Consultation Process: Applying the Imagine Method in Context of Abu Dhabi’s Education Policy

Abstract:

Towards an Effective Multi-Stakeholder Consultation Process: Applying the Imagine Method in Context of Abu Dhabi’s Education Policy Simon BellThis paper is concerned with the many interleaving issues that emerge when engaging multiple stakeholders in decision-making. Whilst recognising the intrinsic value of group work and keeping in mind the numerous issues that obstruct group work (in- cluding multiple roles for participants, bias due to domination and distortion emerging from uneven group inputs), we applied the Imagine method to propose a new framework— the ‘Multiple Formation Consultation Framework’ (MFCF)—for organising effective multi-stakeholder consultations along the Policy Sciences Framework. Our proposed framework was applied in the context of education policy in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, where 24 small group formations were tasked and assessed in a systemic manner. Evidence from the exercise suggests that: (1) when moving participants from heterogeneous to homogenous groups, the working of the groups became more focused and the outcomes gained greater clarity in terms of the thinking of group members. (2) Yet, when groups moved from homogenous formations to heterogeneous, they became more inquisitive and explored broader aspects of the tasks at hand. (3) A repeat of the process over 2-day period where different members of the groups experience both homogenous and heterogeneous formations back and forth (in order to capture the unique value emerging from each composition) have led to more efficient and effective working and outcomes of the groups.

Springer Link

Mahroum, S., Bell, S., Al-Saleh, Y. and Yassin, N. (2016) Towards an Effective Multi-Stakeholder Consultation Process: Applying the Imagine Method in Context of Abu Dhabi’s Education Policy. Systemic Practice and Action Research. 29, pp. 335 – 353. DOI 10.1007/s11213-016-9367-6

Imagine Coastal Sustainability


Abstract:

Imagine Coastal Sustainability
 Simon BellSince 2000 Coastal Area Management Programmes (CAMPs) supported by UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) and the Priority Actions Programme Regional Activity Centre (PAP/RAC) have been engaging local communities in assessment of their coastal sustainability. The Methods used since 2000 have been based upon an evolving methodology which is now called Imagine.
In 2010 The CAMP Levante de Almeria began. “Imagine the future of our coast” is the slogan selected for this project which is intended to turn this area of southern Spain into a sustainability laboratory. The CAMP Levante de Almeria project is a test and a practical demonstration of how to implement Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) concepts in Spain in compliance with the ICZM Protocol (the seventh protocol in the framework of the Barcelona Convention). CAMP acts technically, environmentally and socially as a means to design and implement new practices, relating these to vertical and horizontal coordination between local and regional administration and public participation in decision-making processes related to the coastal zone. The fundamental objective of the project is to achieve wide scale agreement on the sustainable development of the coast.
Drawing upon the history of the various CAMP projects, this paper explores progress made so far in the application of the Imagine methodology in CAMP Levante de Almeria and, by contrasting it with sum- mary observations emerging from earlier Imagine applications in Malta, Lebanon, Algeria, Slovenia and Cyprus draws conclusions on the value of engaging coastal communities in sustainability self- assessment.

Science Direct Link

Bell, S., Correa Pena, A., Prem, M. (2013). Imagine coastal sustainability. Ocean and Coastal Management, 83, pp. 39 – 51.

From Sustainable Community to Big Society: 10 Years Learning with the Imagine Approach

Abstract:

From Sustainable Community to Big Society: 10 Years Learning with the Imagine Approach Simon BellCommunity is a key word in the current UK political vocabulary. As part of Big Society or as a sustainable means to develop social coherence, community has been an area of focus that has attained UK political party interest since 2003. In 1999, the Imagine method was first hinted at in the Earthscan book: “Sustainability Indicators: measuring the immeasurable”. The approach allows citizens to learn about and self-evaluate their own sustainability by developing their own sustainability indicators in a manner which is participatory and evidence based. Communities could make use of the approach, not in an attempt to arrive at some “absolute” value of sustainability but in striving to achieve a self-knowing sense of how sustainable they are, by their own measured indicators, and to use this evaluation in discourse with other agencies such as local and national government. The tone of Imagine is to empower citizens to own their own sustainability and to plan for sustainable futures. The method, developed for spatial and temporal sustainability assessment, has been trialled by countries in the Mediterranean region within Coastal Area Management Programmes (CAMPs). Building off this engagement with geographically and culturally diverse communities, the method has been supported by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) in the UK and developed into a teaching module that has been subsequently tested at undergraduate, postgraduate, continuing professional development (CPD), Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and working with practitioners, as a hands-on Masterclass. The resulting course Creating Sustainable Communities (CSC) has now been introduced to 20 UK universities and has seen use by seven of them. This paper tracks the development of the Imagine method, explores its major elements and sets out the learning impacts it has had to date.

Bell, S. 2011. From Sustainable Community to Big Society: 10 years learning with the Imagine approach. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education. 20, 3, pp 247 – 267.

Measuring and Evaluating – Introducing Imagine

How the Imagine Approach Captures Context and Leads to Sustainability

The Imagine approach is intended to assist organisations and communities of all kinds to improve their long-term sustainability. It provides a rapid means to:

  • Gain a clear understanding of the context in which the organisation or community finds itself and the challenges it faces.
  • Identify the main indicators which can be used to measure progress made in facing these challenges.
  • Assess the overall message of these indicators and thereby assess the current sustainability of the organisation or community.
  • Consider the current challenges, make scenarios of possible undesirable and desirable futures.
  • Assess progress made in either achieving or remaining clear of these futures in the light of current challenges.

Imagine requires the organisation to invest in no additional capital assets such as software or personnel. It is a facilitated workshop process in which a series of tools are applied to enable local decision makers to map their own context and model sustainable futures. In a series of four half day Imagine events, stakeholders from within the organisation or community come together with a facilitator to engage in the process. Imagine is Rapid, Participatory and Holistic It provides organisations and communities with empowering, evidence-based information … helping them to gain a clear insight into a sustainable future. Rich Pictures (such as seen at the top of the page) are used to map the initial context and amoeba diagrams provide an overview of how things were, are and (importantly) could be. Imagine is not Expert driven, Top down or Exclusive and full of technical language.

 

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