Theme 7: Capacity--Oral Sessions

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Over the last two decades, pastoralists and researchers have formed powerful alliances to transform how we think about and do research-with-action in rangelands. These alliances promote faster learning about problems and their potential solutions by bringing together diverse partners and their different ways of understanding important issues. They also ensure research is fully relevant to real problems, so it supports pastoralists to act on both old and new issues that they face. While these approaches can be contentious when perspectives and experiences do not align, team members are finding them transformative, if they commit to working together over the long term.

Based on a long history of participatory research approaches in the social sciences, these alliances are now inter- and trans-disciplinary, spread throughout the sciences. This paper uses six case studies to explore the experience of teams who have used this research-with-action approach in the rangelands of Kenya, Tanzania, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Spain and the US. These teams developed and implemented this approach not in halls of academia, but in equal pastoralist-researcher partnerships by creating full co-learning and democratized processes together. These teams then purposely built the capacity of all stakeholders to act together to promote desired change. The case studies integrate diverse knowledges at multiple scales into collective ‘learning and doing’ teams composed of pastoral peoples, policy makers, scientists, business people, and others. This process ensures a broad range of understandings and interpretations form the foundation of the actions and adaptations taken by actors across landscapes and scales. The approach contributes to the resilience of place-based social-ecological systems in rangelands by avoiding top-down, one-size-fits-all approaches. Uniting these ideas and practices has allowed research-with-action to become truly transformative, by accelerating the capacity of all stakeholders to learn and act more effectively.

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Co-Produced Research Supports Pastoralists to Pursue Transformative Social and Ecological Change in Rangelands

Over the last two decades, pastoralists and researchers have formed powerful alliances to transform how we think about and do research-with-action in rangelands. These alliances promote faster learning about problems and their potential solutions by bringing together diverse partners and their different ways of understanding important issues. They also ensure research is fully relevant to real problems, so it supports pastoralists to act on both old and new issues that they face. While these approaches can be contentious when perspectives and experiences do not align, team members are finding them transformative, if they commit to working together over the long term.

Based on a long history of participatory research approaches in the social sciences, these alliances are now inter- and trans-disciplinary, spread throughout the sciences. This paper uses six case studies to explore the experience of teams who have used this research-with-action approach in the rangelands of Kenya, Tanzania, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Spain and the US. These teams developed and implemented this approach not in halls of academia, but in equal pastoralist-researcher partnerships by creating full co-learning and democratized processes together. These teams then purposely built the capacity of all stakeholders to act together to promote desired change. The case studies integrate diverse knowledges at multiple scales into collective ‘learning and doing’ teams composed of pastoral peoples, policy makers, scientists, business people, and others. This process ensures a broad range of understandings and interpretations form the foundation of the actions and adaptations taken by actors across landscapes and scales. The approach contributes to the resilience of place-based social-ecological systems in rangelands by avoiding top-down, one-size-fits-all approaches. Uniting these ideas and practices has allowed research-with-action to become truly transformative, by accelerating the capacity of all stakeholders to learn and act more effectively.