Actionable knowledge and the art of engagement

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Feb 14, 2020
Katharine J. Mach, Maria Carmen Lemos, Alison M. Meadow, Carina Wyborn, Nicole Klenk, James C. Arnott, Nicole M. Ardoin, Clare Fieseler, Richard H. Moss, Leah Nichols, Missy Stults, Catherine Vaughan, and Gabrielle Wong-Parodi



What makes knowledge relevant to environmental sustainability actionable, and how can its societal impacts be evaluated? Scholars and practitioners have increasingly advocated that the traditional linear model of knowledge production, with its unidirectional flow of information from researchers to policy-makers, be replaced by a new approach in which researchers and knowledge-users meaningfully interact to co-create knowledge that is actionable in decision-making. This popular model — co-production — has advanced thinking on how to create usable knowledge. In practice, however, co-production has not been a single approach, but instead a diversity of forms of engaged research. Further, the jargon may both obfuscate governance dimensions and limit understanding of what works. Improved distinction among the different ways researchers and societal partners interact can enable attentive and effective engagement across contexts. Recognition of this diversity is necessary in advancing the processes and impacts of actionable knowledge for sustainability.

Article published in Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability.

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