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What Drives Learning and Action in Place-Based Adaptation Workshops?
Despite the urgent need for climate action, people often feel powerless to address climate change due to the scope of the problem and a perceived lack of ability to act collectively in meaningful ways. Locally-based adaptation workshops are a relatively new approach designed specifically to make adaptation locally relevant and to empower people to learn and to act on their newly acquired understandings.
This study, What Drives Learning and Action in Place-Based Adaptation Workshops?,  builds on lessons learned from prior adaptation-related community workshops, as well as research and theory in informal science education and communication to iteratively refine workshop designs to catalyze both learning and action. Through observational and survey research and follow-up monitoring and interviews, we examine which workshop design components have the strongest influences on participant outcomes and explore the processes through which learning occurs.
The project has two phases, with related research questions. Phase One developed a list of consensus-based effective practices through surveys of expert workshop facilitators and past workshop participants. Phase Two built on Phase One to iteratively develop and research eight successive adaptation workshops to more fully understand how learning takes place and collective action develops (or fails to develop) and to test hypothesized effective practices developed in Phase One.
Phase One research questions include:
  • What are expert consensus-based effective practices for engendering climate literacy and adaptation actions through place-based workshops?
  • To what extent do prior workshop participants’ perspectives corroborate those effective practices?
Phase Two research questions include:
  • How does learning occur in place-based adaptation workshops, and what difference does it make for collective action?
  • How do different workshop components influence participants’ learning, their individual behavioral intentions and behaviors, and their subsequent efforts toward collective action?
  • How do learning and collaborative outcomes differ in different conditions? In particular, how do they differ in places that have vs. have not had a recent severe climate event and in places in with different political viewpoints and agendas about climate change?
Owing to the pandemic we added an additional research question:
  • How do perceptions of learning and networking at professional conferences compare between online and in-person convening?
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1811534. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.