Advertisement

Community Deliberation to Build Local Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation: The Rural Climate Dialogues Program

  • C. Daniel MyersEmail author
  • Tara Ritter
  • Andrew Rockway
Chapter
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)

Abstract

Apathy and skepticism about climate change make mobilizing collective action for adaptation difficult in rural areas of the US. This paper evaluates the potential for deliberative public engagement to overcome these obstacles through a case study of the Rural Climate Dialogues (RCD) program. A Rural Climate Dialogue (RCD) convenes a demographically and politically representative group of residents for three days of deliberation about the local impacts of climate change and about how their community can adapt. Following the Citizens Jury model, participants spend three days hearing expert testimony, deliberating together to identify elements of their community that are threatened by climate change, and devising recommendations for individual and community actions that can enhance their community’s climate resilience. Drawing on case studies of RCDs in three Minnesota communities, this evaluation finds that participating in an RCD reduces skepticism about climate change and increases beliefs that the local community can and should take action. Further, these dialogues spur collective action by setting clear, public goals and building support for direct involvement from community leaders and public officials. This success suggests that deliberative public engagement can be a useful tool for adaptation planning in rural communities and other areas where apathy and skepticism are significant barriers.

Keywords

Climate change adaptation Deliberation Public engagement Citizens Jury Rural climate adaptation 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge the funding of the McKnight Foundation and the Carolyn Foundation in support of this project.

References

  1. Brulle RJ (2010) From environmental campaigns to advancing the public dialog: environmental communication for civic engagement. Environ Commun 4(1):82–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cutter S, Boruff B, Shirley L (2003) Social vulnerability to environmental hazards. Soc Sci Q 84:242–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Crosby N, Nethercutt D (2005) Citizens juries: creating a trustworthy voice of the people. In: Gastil J, Levine P (eds) The deliberative democracy handbook: strategies for effective civic engagement in the twenty-first century. Jossey-Bass, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  4. Vries De, Stanczyk AE, Ryan KA, Kim SYH (2011) A framework for assessing the quality of democratic deliberation: enhancing deliberation as a tool for bioethics. J Empirical Res Hum Res Ethics 6(3):3–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Esterling KM, Fung A, Lee T (2015) How much disagreement is good for democratic deliberation? Polit Commun 32(4):529–551CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fishkin J (2009) When the people speak: deliberative democracy and public consultation. Oxford University Press, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  7. Few R, Brown K, Tompkins EL (2007) Public participation and climate change adaptation: avoiding the illusion of inclusion. Clim Policy 7(1):46–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Forester J (1999) The deliberative practitioner: encouraging participatory planning processes. MIT Press, Cambridge, MassGoogle Scholar
  9. Gastil J, Black L (2007) Public deliberation as the organizing principle of political communication research. J Publ Deliberation 4(1). http://www.publicdeliberation.net/jpd/vol4/iss1/art3
  10. Grönlund K, Bächtiger A, Setälä M (2014) Introduction. Deliberative mini-publics: involving citizens in the democratic process, studies in European political science. ECPR Press, Colchester, pp 1–7Google Scholar
  11. Hales D, Hohenstein W, Bidwell MD, Landry C, McGranahan D, Molnar J, Morton LW, Vasquez M, Jadin J (2014) Rural communities. In: Melillo JM, Richmond TT, Yohe GW (eds) Climate change impacts in the United States: the third national climate assessment. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA, pp 333–349Google Scholar
  12. Hall JL (2008) The forgotten regional organizations: creating capacity for economic development. Publ Adm Rev 68(1):110–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Heberle LC, Merrill S, Keeley CH, Lloyd S (2014) Local knowledge and participatory climate change planning in the Northeastern U.S. In: Leal Filho W, Alves F, Caeiro S, Azeiteiro UM (eds) International perspectives on climate change. Springer International Publishing, Cham, CH, pp 239–52Google Scholar
  14. Howe PD, Mildenberger M, Marlon JR, Leiserowitz A (2015) Geographic variation in opinions on climate change at state and local scales in the USA. Nat Clim Change 5(6):596–603CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. IPCC (2014) Climate change 2014: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USAGoogle Scholar
  16. Kahan D (2012) Why we are poles apart on climate change. Nature 488(7411):255–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kahan DM (2015) Climate-science communication and the measurement problem. Adv Polit Psychol 1(1):1–43Google Scholar
  18. Knobloch KR, Gastil J, Reedy J, Walsh KC (2013) Did they deliberate? Applying an evaluative model of democratic deliberation to the oregon citizens initiative review. J Appl Commun Res 41(2):105–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. McGuire M, Rubin B, Agranoff R, Richards C (1994) Building development capacity in nonmetropolitan communities. Publ Adm Rev 54(5):426–433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Milligan J, O’Riordan T, Nicholson-Cole SA, Watkinson AR (2009) Nature conservation for future sustainable shorelines: lessons from Seeking to involve the public. Land Use Policy 26(2):203–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Moser SC (2014) Communicating adaptation to climate change: the art and science of public engagement when climate change comes home. Wiley Interdisc Rev: Clim Change 5(3):337–358Google Scholar
  22. Munno G, Nabatchi T (2014) Public deliberation and co-production in the political and electoral arena: a citizens’ Jury Approach. J Publ Deliberation 10(2)Google Scholar
  23. Myers CD, Mendelberg T (2013) Public deliberation. In: Huddy L, Sears DO, Levy JS (eds) Oxford handbook of political psychology, 2nd edn. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  24. Newstead B, Wu P (2009) Nonprofits in rural America: overcoming the resource gap. Bridgespan Group, Boston, MAGoogle Scholar
  25. Phadke R, Manning C, Burlager S (2015) Making it personal: diversity and deliberation in climate adaptation planning. Clim Risk Manage 9:62–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Safford TG, Cutler M, Henly M, Norman K, Levin P (2012) Urban-rural differences in concern about the environment and jobs in the Puget Sound region. The Carsey School of public policy at the scholars’ repository. Paper 185. Carsey Institute, University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.HGoogle Scholar
  27. Sheppard SRJ et al (2011) Future visioning of local climate change: a framework for community engagement and planning with scenarios and visualisation. Futures 43(4):400–412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. USDA Economic Research Service (2016) Rural at a glance, 2015th edn. United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC, USAGoogle Scholar
  29. Warren ME, Gastil J (2015) Can deliberative minipublics address the cognitive challenges of democratic citizenship? J Polit 77(2):562–574CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Agriculture and Trade PolicyMinneapolisUSA
  3. 3.Jefferson CenterSt. PaulUSA

Personalised recommendations