Actionable knowledge and the art of engagement


What makes knowledge relevant to environmental sustainability actionable, and how can its societal impacts be evaluated? Scholars and practitioners have increasingly advocated that the traditional linear model of knowledge production, with its unidirectional flow of information from researchers to policy-makers, be replaced by a new approach in which researchers and knowledge-users meaningfully interact to co-create knowledge that is actionable in decision-making. This popular model — co-production — has advanced thinking on how to create usable knowledge. In practice, however, co-production has not been a single approach, but instead a diversity of forms of engaged research. Further, the jargon may both obfuscate governance dimensions and limit understanding of what works. Improved distinction among the different ways researchers and societal partners interact can enable attentive and effective engagement across contexts. Recognition of this diversity is necessary in advancing the processes and impacts of actionable knowledge for sustainability.

Publication Type
Journal Article
Katharine J. Mach
Alison M. Meadow
Carina Wyborn, WWF
Nicole Klenk, Toronto
James C. Arnott
Nicole M. Ardoin
Clare Fieseler, UNC Chapel Hill
Richard H. Moss
Leah Nichols, NSF
Missy Stults
Catherine Vaughan, International Research Institute for Climate & Society/Columbia
Gabrielle Wong-Parodi, Carnegie Mellon University
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability

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