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Local perspectives and global archetypes in scenario development

Chloe B Wardropper, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Sean Gillon, Department of Food Systems and Society, Marylhurst University; Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Amber S Mase, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Emily A McKinney, Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Stephen R Carpenter, Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Adena R Rissman, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08384-210212

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Abstract

Contrasting social-ecological scenarios can help stakeholders envision potential futures and navigate change and uncertainty. Scenario developers integrate stakeholder perceptions into storylines to increase scenario relevance and plausibility while relying on archetypes of change from scenario literature to enrich narratives. This research examines the contributions of local perspectives and global archetypes to scenario development through a case study of a regional scenario project, Yahara 2070, in Wisconsin, USA. Interviews with 50 Yahara watershed stakeholders and 5 members of the project's scenario development team were examined to compare themes from scenario archetypes with local perspectives on how change is expected to occur. We next examined how these two sources of inspiration for trajectories of change were used in the development of the Yahara 2070 scenarios. Both global archetypes and local stakeholders emphasized social values, market forces, and policy reform as influences in determining the future, which were reflected in Yahara 2070. However, stakeholders were less likely to mention institutional breakdown, an important theme from the global scenarios literature that was included in Yahara 2070. This research offers a new approach to analyzing similarities and differences between scenarios’ narratives and local perspectives. Scenario development may involve tensions between the goals of reflecting stakeholder views and including narratives from the global scenarios literature that may be useful for creating divergent model trajectories and addressing dramatic change into the future. To improve scenario development, scenario projects should document the development process in academic and nonacademic venues, explicitly highlighting sources and constraints in storyline development.

Key words

scenario archetypes; scenario development; social and environmental change; stakeholder perspectives; watershed futures

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087