Pathways: Forest Science Dialogues

February 15th, 2014 - January 31st, 2016 | PROJECT

This Pathways project, led by Hubbard Brook Research Foundation (HBRF), develops and pilots a model to foster engagement and learning among diverse stakeholders related to timely ecosystem, social, economic, and policy issues in rural regions of New England's Northern Forest. As such, this project seeks to serve as a model for how other rural areas across the US that have pressing concerns that relate to science, technology, mathematics, and engineering (STEM) may partner with scientists, community members, and local organizations to better understand and become involved in regional issues. Research carried out for more than 50 years at the 7,800-acre Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest?among the longest-running ecosystem studies in the world?has significant implications for decision making at local as well as national levels on topics including climate change, environmental stresses on tree physiology, biomass energy, and invasive pests and pathogens. By employing a Pubic Engagement with Science approach, the project goals focus on learning and equitable participation by both public audiences (local communities and organizations) and professional audiences (scientists who want to engage in informal science learning). In this case, "equitable" means valuing the experiences and knowledge that diverse people have. "Learning" is designed to occur for all participants, such that everyone has a deeper, broader, and more nuanced understanding of STEM, the regional issues, and opportunities for the future. HBRF has designed a three-part model that includes multi-stakeholder dialogue events, workshops and dialogues with scientists working in the region, and regional capacity building for supporting outcomes of the dialogues and workshops. The project evaluation aligns closely with the Public Engagement with Science approach and project goals. As such, over the course of project activities, the evaluation measures both the public's learning and capacity to engage with other stakeholder around regional issues as well as those of the scientists. In addition, the evaluation will document the strategies and capacities of the HBRF model to broaden and sustain productive interactions among diverse regional stakeholders. Dissemination of this pilot project's findings include a case study reflecting on the process, lessons learned, and potential best practices related to the PES model as well as presentations by project leadership at community, scientific, and educational meetings. The pilot would then provide a foundation for an on-going, expanded effort for HBRF in the Northern Forest and/or an expanded effort in the region around a set off issues. In either case, the full-scale project would build from the refined model as well as the capacity built through the pilot.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

2014 Poster - Forest Science Dialogues
2016 Poster - Forest Science Dialogues
Forest Science Dialogues: Final Evaluation Report
Tips for Convening a Roundtable Dialogue Event

Team Members

Sarah Garlick, Principal Investigator, Hubbard Brook Research Foundation
David Sleeper, Co-Principal Investigator


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 1322871
Funding Amount: 265072


Access and Inclusion: Rural
Audience: General Public | Scientists
Discipline: Climate | Ecology | forestry | agriculture
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Community Outreach Programs | Public Programs