Contested Modelling

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  • 1. Contested ModellingDr Mike Yearworth1, Dr Sarah Cornell2[1] Readerin Engineering Systems, Faculty of Engineering University of Bristol, UK[2] Coordinator Planetary Boundaries Collaboratory, StockholmResilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden 17th July 2012

2. ! Starting points Over-mathematisation of models and reliance on simulation has led to a loss of narrative and representations essentially black-box approaches Ownership and control of models is in conflict with processes that might make them debatable with publics Need for specialised techniques also limits debate to between experts and narrow falsifiability as a validation technique Focus on nomothetic approaches universal models17th July 2012 2 3. ! Method Can we get better at sustainability interventions given our starting point in expert modelling? RQ: Do we (the authors) understand the relationshipbetween expert modelling and its publics? SRQ: Do we understand each other? Data sources project experience (Sympact,HalSTAR, CONVERGE, IHOPE) Theoretical lens ontology, praxis and reflexivity17th July 20123 4. ! Ontologies Geels identifies seven ontologies in analysing social-technical transitions towards sustainability Rational choice, evolutionary theory, structuralism, functionalism, interpretivism, conflict and power structure, relationism cf Burrel & Morgan (Sociological Paradigms andOrganisational Analysis: Elements of the Sociology ofCorporate Life) Questions: Is there an underpinning project ontology? Is there diversity? Made explicit?Geels,F. W. (2010) Ontologies, socio-technical transitions (to sustainability), and the multi-levelperspective. Research Policy, 39(4), pp. 495-510.17th July 2012 4 5. ! OntologiesOntology Causal AgentCausal MechanismRational ChoiceSelf interested individuals Decentralised choiceCo-Evolution Populations Search, selectionStructuralismBelief systemsDeep structuresInterpretivism Individuals, interpretationsShared meaning, sense- making, debateFunctionalismElements of a social system Enacting roles, feedbackConflict and Power Groups with conflicting Struggle between groups interestsRelationismNetworksInteractionAdapted from Geels, F. W. (2010) Ontologies, socio-technical transitions (to sustainability), and themulti-level perspective. Research Policy, 39(4), pp. 495-510.17th July 20125 6. ! Praxis & Purpose of Modelling Way in which theoretical knowledge of the expert modeller(s) is enacted through intervention Modelling purpose is bound to the question of enactment of intervention Questions: Is there a stated purpose to modelling? Best mode of expressing the models? Prediction (action outside scope) or guide to action? If action, then is action research explicit? 17th July 2012 6 7. ! Reflexivity Translating ideas of reflexivity into context of environmental governance Sensitivity to inputs from diverse perspectives Recognising alternative ways of seeing issues of concerns Questions: How does modelling support reflexivity? Support stakeholder engagement? Longer term engagement? 17th July 2012 7 8. ! Projects Sympact Generate predictions/scenarios around GHG emissions inthe digital media industry to inform strategy. LCA and SDmodels. Functionalism Future intent to support wider engagement HalSTAR Grounded, holistic approach to assessing sustainabilityoptions of civil engineering projects Functionalism, initially, moving towards interpretivism Latter leads to better reflection on original modelling task 17th July 20128 9. ! Projects CONVERGE Global sustainability, conceptualising equity within the Earthsnatural biophysical limits Functionalism and structuralism with some interpretivist, conflict/power structures Models intended to guide action, explicit action research Long term relationships with communities. And not IHOPE Linking social and environmental sciences to understandhuman-environment interactions over multiple timescales Functionalism, but some debate Recognises need to link to wide social and environmentalsciences communities to improve current Earth systems models 17th July 2012 9 10. Engagement of model users in process for action DirectHalSTARSustainability Action: Indirect SympactCONVERGE NoneIHOPENone Indirect DirectKnowledge Building: Engagement of stakeholders in model construction 17th July 201210 11. ! Validation after Barlas White box vs. black box modelling black box quality of the predictions: do they match observational data? [data-driven, correlational , possible abductive fallacies] white box structure of the model: does the model explain how observed behaviour is obtained? [theory-like, causal descriptive ] How do we validate explanations (structural validity) i.e. get right behaviour for the right reason ? Functionalist worldview objective representation of real world model is either correct or incorrect. Possibly true of other ontologies Praxis view one possible representation continuum of usefulness Barlas,Y. (1996) Formal aspects of model validity and validation in system dynamics. ! System Dynamics Review, 12(3), pp. 183-210.17th July 201211 12. ! Towards wider stakeholder engagement? this is not about open data, or open access to publications (both are necessary but not sufficient), and not really open source either Possible approaches Argumentation (Toulmin, De Liddo, 2010) Participatory Action Learning (Perkons and Brown, 2010) Issue Based Information Systems (IBIS) (Buckingham Shum, 2006, Conklin, 2003) Social Learning (Senge, 2005)17th July 2012 12 13. ! Discussion Points If ultimately praxis is about behaviour change then what is more important: accuracy or method of coupling with change processes? Difficult for non-scientific public to make distinctions between ignorance, uncertainty and contingent findings expressed as testable hypotheses Predominately functionalist worldview of expert modellers is mismatched to intervention generally who has the view of the real world? Ironically, in the area of sustainability this disconnect is ultimately untenable (obviously?) Paradoxically, over-attention to being scientific closes avenues for scientifically informed but systemic solutions 17th July 2012 13 14. Questions? [email protected]@stockholmresilience.su.se17th July 2012 14