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Seeking our shared wisdom: a framework for understanding knowledge coproduction and coproductive capacities

H. Z. Schuttenberg, School of Biological Sciences and Centre for Sustainable International Development, University of Aberdeen, UK; currently with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), E3 Bureau, Office of Forestry and Biodiversity
Heidi K. Guth, Kai Hoʻoulu LLLC and Polynesian Voyaging Society


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The widespread disconnect between scientific projections of climate change and the implementation of responsive management actions has escalated calls for knowledge production processes able to exercise a stronger voice in decision making. Recently, the concept of coproduction has been championed as a potential answer. The term ‘knowledge coproduction’ is used loosely in the literature to describe an inclusive, iterative approach to creating new information; it is distinguished by its focus on facilitating interactions between stakeholders to develop an integrated or transformational understanding of a sustainability problem. Whether a coproduction process is successful in this integration of science and policy depends on a range of capabilities that should be understood as ‘coproductive capacities.’ We draw on the literature from sustainability science to propose a conceptual framework that specifies the sequential goals of knowledge coproduction and potential sources of coproductive capacity. We apply this framework to examine our experience facilitating the coproduction of a climate change action plan for Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and World Heritage Site. This framework offers a structure for systematically investigating the capacities, mechanisms, and dynamics of knowledge coproduction and for guiding the design of coproduction processes.

Key words

climate change; coproduction; coral reef management; governance; traditional ecological knowledge

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087