Coping with Change: The Small Experiment as a Strategic Approach to Environmental Sustainability

Abstract

The patterns of living, planning, and resource utilization as practiced in Western countries for decades are not sustainable; change of some sort is essential. But what changes are appropriate, and, perhaps more important, will people accept them? The small experiment framework provides a strategy for meeting the challenge of change. By encouraging participation, limiting the scale of initial change, and incorporating some aspects of the familiar, many of the difficulties that make change so problematic can be mitigated or even eliminated. An exploration, from a psychological perspective, of the characteristic difficulties surrounding potential change provides the context for a discussion of the components of the small experiment and an analysis of how these elements address these characteristic challenges. A comparison to adaptive management is drawn, and several concrete examples illustrate how the strategy has been used successfully to address a variety of environmental problems.

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IRVINE, K., KAPLAN, S. Coping with Change: The Small Experiment as a Strategic Approach to Environmental Sustainability. Environmental Management 28, 713–725 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1007/s002670010256

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  • KEY WORDS: Sustainability; Participation; Experiment; Local scale; Adaptive management; Environmental problem solving