Participatory model building

Knowledge management (KM)and information technology (IT) both link, and enhance each other in learning-based initiatives such as participatory or cooperative model-building. Often one of the best techniques for generating improved thinking at a social level is to use models as an aid to help stakeholders visualize the wider social and bio-physical processes that they cannot see unaided. Many forms of modelling can be used in this participatory manner. Conceptual modelling  is often done as a starting process, providing a graphical representation or diagram that involves stakeholders in clarifying the initial framing. Papers that illustrate a participatory or collaborative approach to modeling as a link between information and knowledge management include:

Collaborative (participatory) modelling

Modelling with stakeholders – Next generation
Alexey Voinov et al. (2016) Environmental Modelling & Software
This paper updates and builds on ‘Modelling with Stakeholders’ Voinov and Bousquet, 2010 which demonstrated the importance of, and demand for, stakeholder participation in resource and environmental modelling. This position paper returns to the concepts of that publication and reviews the progress made since 2010. A new development is the wide introduction and acceptance of social media and web applications, which dramatically changes the context and scale of stakeholder interactions and participation.

Tools and methods in participatory modeling: Selecting the right tool for the job
Alexey  Voinov et al. (2018) Modelling & Software 
Various tools and methods are used in participatory modelling, at different stages of the process and for different purposes. The diversity of tools and methods can create challenges
for stakeholders and modelers when selecting the ones most appropriate for their projects …

The use of participatory modeling to promote social learning and facilitate community disaster planning
This 2015 paper by Sarah Henly-Shepard, Steven Gray and Linda Cox presents a three-phase social learning framework to facilitate stakeholder-driven scenario-based modeling, in order to inform community disaster planning in relation to the potential impacts of a tsunami. This enabled a community committee to represent, explore and actively question their beliefs about the natural hazards that their community faces. Further, the modeling process allowed the committee to represent the communities’ dynamic nature, run tsunami hazard scenarios to quantify potential direct and indirect effects, and explicitly compare trade-offs of competing adaptation strategies. Changes in the committee’s model representations that took place over time demonstrate a progression through single-, double- and triple-loop learning, indicating that social learning occurred across individual to institutional levels, and over short- to long-term time scales.

Behavioural issues in environmental modelling: The missing perspective
This 2015 paper by Raimo Hämäläinen demonstrates the importance of behavioural issues in environmental modelling. These issues can relate both to the modeler and to the modelling process including the social interaction in the modelling team. The origins of behavioural effects can be in the cognitive and motivational biases or in the social systems created as well as in the visual and verbal communication strategies used.

Empowering marginalized communities in water resources management: Addressing inequitable practices in Participatory Model Building
This 2015 paper by Cameron Butler and Jan Adamowski points out that while there is significant focus on improving stakeholder engagement, there is a lack of studies specifically looking at the experiences of marginalized communities and the barriers that prevent their fuller participation in the decision-making process. This paper explores the common issues and presents recommended improved practices, based on anti-oppression, related to the stages of problem framing, stakeholder identification and selection, workshop preparation, and workshop facilitation.

Companion modelling: a method of adaptive and participatory research
This 2013 paper by Olivier Barreteau and colleagues review experiences with companion modelling. Based on this comparative analysis, they suggest, therefore, a few key points describing companion modelling that can help practitioners moving forward.

How Collaborative Technology Supports Cognitive Processes in Collaborative Process Modeling: A Capabilities-Gains-Outcome Model
This 2013 paper by Jan Recker and colleagues examines which capabilities technologies provide to support collaborative process modeling. It aims to provide an understanding of the process of collaborative process modeling, and detail implications for research and guidelines for the practical design of collaborative process modeling.

Integrated environmental modeling: A vision and roadmap for the future
This 2013 paper by Gerard Laniak and colleagues present “integrated environmental modelling” (IEM) as a landscape containing four interdependent elements: applications, science, technology, and community. These elements are then described from the perspective of their role in the landscape, current practices, and challenges that must be addressed. The authors suggest that improving our current practice will require that the global community of IEM stakeholders transcend social, and organizational boundaries and pursue greater levels of collaboration.

Evaluating Participatory Modelling
This CSIRO working paper by Nathalie Jones and colleagues introduces a framework for evaluating projects that have adopted a participatory modeling approach. The framework assesses the extent to which different participatory modeling practices reinforce or divert from the theoretical assumptions they are built upon. The paper discusses the application of the framework in three case-studies.

If you have a hammer everything looks like a nail: ‘traditional’ versus participatory model building
In this paper Christina Prell and colleagues argue that the modelling of complex, dynamic and uncertain socio-environmental systems requires close collaboration between research disciplines and stakeholders at all levels, for if such models are representations of aspects of reality, how can it be possible to build them without inputs from people who interact with the systems in reality? This paper reflects on findings of case study research involving stakeholders in knowledge creation through conceptual and formal model building to support upland water catchment management. This poses a number of interesting new challenges for the organisation of the research process, leading to higher levels of uncertainty for researchers and funding agencies. A considerable amount of trust is required from funding agencies to devote money to financing processes with vaguely defined and surprising outcomes, as well as the flexibility to allow for modifications of design and ultimately to rely on the composition of the project team to provide the expertise the problem requires. [Note: This appears to be an early version of the paper]

Companion modeling, conflict resolution, and institution building: sharing irrigation water in the Lingmuteychu Watershed, Bhutan
Companion modeling is a methodology which makes use of multi-agent systems in a participatory way in fields such as sustainable resource management. The objective is to apply simulation tools when dealing with these complex systems in order to understand the institutions and norms that drive the interactions among actors, and consequently between actors and their environment. This Ecology & Society paper by Tayan Raj Gurung, Francois Bousquet and Guy Trebuil shows how this methodology helped resolve a conflict over the sharing of water resources by establishing a concrete agreement and creating an institution for collective watershed management.

Why involving people is important: the forgotten part of environmental information system management
This paper by Will Allen and Margaret Kilvington points out that developing information management systems to support decision making on-the-ground cannot take place in isolation of the broader social context within which people generate and utilise information and learn. The technology and hardware components, which are the most visible aspects of such systems, receive most attention from researchers and funders. However, if we want people to use information more effectively to help change the way they look at the world — and how they go about managing its resources — then we must pay equal attention to the social aspects of information systems, in particular to ensure that they support learning. This paper outlines the requirements for collaborative learning, by which the differing perspectives of multiple stakeholders are coordinated to manage complex environmental problems. A process for utilising the principles of collaborative learning for developing integrated information systems to support decision making is discussed. Particular attention is paid to the new skills of relationship building, facilitation, and conflict management required by multidisciplinary teams developing such systems. Examples to illustrate how these skills could be used in practice are drawn from case studies in resource management in New Zealand.

Benefits of collaborative learning for environmental management: Applying the Integrated Systems for Knowledge Management approach to support animal pest control
In this paper Will Allen and colleagues show the ISKM (Integrated Systems for Knowledge Management) approach to illustrate how learning-based approaches can be used to help communities develop, apply, and refine technical information within a larger context of shared understanding. Particular attention is paid to the issues that emerge as a result of multiple stakeholder involvement within environmental problem situations. Finally, the potential role for the Internet in supporting and disseminating the experience gained through ongoing adaptive management processes is examined.

Participatory Avenues
This site acts as a focal point for sharing lessons learned and innovation in practicing ethically-conscious community mapping and participatory GIS as means to add value and authority to people’s spatial knowledge and improve bottom-up communication. It hosts the Participatory 3D Modelling: Guiding Principles And Applications; Handbook which can be downloaded.

A related area is conceptual modeling . In broad terms, conceptual modelling is the process of developing a graphical representation (or model) from the real world.