Saturday, November 13, 2010

Passing of Ernst von Glasersfeld

This evening I came home to news about Ernst's death this morning, 12 November 2010, at 7am US east coast time.  Ernst was seen by some as the originator of 'radical constructivism'.  I was fortunate to see him again at the recent ASC Conference in Troy, upstate New York where he gave, as always, an erudite talk as the conference after dinner speaker.  He was clearly pleased to be amongst that community even though his deafness made connection difficult.  Reports of his death at the age of 93 are beginning to appear.

See a synopsis of his work here.
Some current research projects

I have made links under News to some research projects that are currently under way.   One is a collaboration with RMIT and others under the auspices of VCCCAR.   We are responsible for one of the work packages:

Exploring local narratives (12 months)
Adaptation activity is strongly influenced by perceptions of risk either driven by underlying value and belief systems, or recent personal experience of weather-related extreme events, or as built into historical institutional arrangements and practices. How different actors perceive climate risks and differentiate risk from uncertainty (and how they think these will impact their activity) will ultimately be a critical influence on how individuals and organisations respond. This cross cutting theme will look at the narrative settings and the historical institutional basis which major stakeholder groups bring to their engagement with climate change adaptation. It is intended that work in each of the case studies will deliver theoretical and methodological advances as well as changes in understandings and practices amongst key stakeholders. The exact focus of the narratives will be identified according to the interests of local stakeholders.

I am also involved in the Building common understanding of climate adaptation scenario approaches and strategies project.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

New UK White Paper in the pipeline

CIWEM have circulated advice about the Natural Environment White Paper. It seems that this paper is a key one from which several other policy documents and strategies will be developed. The item said:

'Last week Laura Grant from CIWEM attended the Natural Environment White Paper (NEWP) stakeholder meeting.  For anyone unaware the NEWP is the first since 1990 and will be published in April 2011. The NEWP will  set the framework for the Government’s priorities for the natural environment and how these will be delivered.

It will incorporate biodiversity, the marine environment, rivers, air and soils, ecosystem services and will also provide the overarching framework for the Water White Paper.

There are 4 key themes:
  • Natural Value – ecosystem services, interdependencies within the natural environment, making a strong case for its economic value
  • Big Society – communities to have bigger roles in protecting and enhancing the natural environment, a healthy natural environment is key for local jobs, public health etc
  •  The Big Picture – environmental decisions don’t stop at administrative boundaries, landscape scale approaches, looking at multiple benefits to tackle issues such as flooding and climate change
  • Think Global act local – impact on natural environment overseas, getting our own house in order, we rely on healthy natural environment abroad for food, preventing climate change
And three Crosscutting challenges:
  • Climate change – adaptation, mitigation and renewable energy
  • Demographic change – and patterns of consumption
  • Incremental impacts – piecemeal degradation of the environment
There still seems to be significant scope for influencing what is included in the white paper. As such it is important to respond to the consultation ..... The discussion document summary gives a good overview and includes the questions ......There is a survey monkey questionnaire that you can fill in .....'
It could never happen here

A warning against systemic failure received from a colleague:

'we’ve all heard about the red mud disaster in Hungary. But it could never happen here …see the .. image of Gladstone, apparently a much larger basin than the one in Hungary, and much closer to the Great Barrier Reef. '
Great Aussie-style animation about main climate patterns

Only someone with true Aussie sensibilities could have designed this innovative website.  The DPI are to be congratulated on their creativity.

The Management Myth

Thanks to Roy Madron for pointing out this article by Matthew Stewart.  It is well worth a read, making the case that: 'most of management theory is inane, .... If you want to succeed in business, don’t get an M.B.A. Study philosophy instead'.  Our OU Systems courses cater for a range of needs and interests but they are at the 'applied philosophy' and sometimes 'applied epistemology' end of the spectrum, thus conforming to Stewart's dictum.
An example of Systems Practice

Demos have several recent reports likely to be of interest because of the situations of concern.  Most call out for some type of systems thinking and practice, as exemplified by the report entitled: Proof Positive.  The following account comes from the Demos website:

'We know a fair amount about what works in improving the well-being of children, but we struggle to do this at scale. This is illustrated by the significant socioeconomic inequality between children that exists today in spite of a decade of ambitious public service reform and increased investment.
Proof Positive explores two questions. First, how do we get practices that are proven to improve children's outcomes embedded within services for children, such as children's centres and schools? What kinds of systemic reforms can be successful in spreading evidence-based, effective programmes at the local level? Second, what is the scope of other types of systemic reform in improving children's outcomes?

The pamphlet argues we need a better understanding about how systems can be made more efficient. We need systems that make better and more widespread use of evidence-based practice. But we should not underestimate the impact that changing processes and structures can have on child outcomes – and the evidence base around this needs further development.'