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A Common Theme Among WWViews Survey Responses

While going through the post-survey responses, I noticed a theme forming from the participant responses to the questions: “What words come to mind to describe the typical person who thinks that Climate Change is/is NOT a serious problem?”

The participants were given three blank spaces to produce their own adjectives describing Type A, someone who thinks climate change is a serious problem, and Type B, someone who thinks climate change is NOT a serious problem. Below you will see the word clouds I created using the two answer sets; the largest words are the words most repeatedly used by participants, while the smaller words are not used as much.

Type A, describing someone who thinks climate change is a serious problem:

captured- concerned

Type B, describing someone who thinks climate change is NOT a serious problem:

capture-unconcerned

As you can see, there are two major themes in the views from the participants. What is most surprising about these answers is that, as I mentioned, participants were given absolute free reign on what words they used to describe Type A and Type B people. There were no word banks on the survey or anything like that; the shear repetitiveness of some answers is startling, and telling about our society today.

By Meghan Herrick, Intern. Consortium for Science Policy and Outcomes

Netra Chhetri (left), World Wide Views project manager for Arizona, tallies votes at the 2012 World Wide Views event at ASU. Photo by: Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes

Giving everyday citizens a voice in global policy decisions

Giving everyday citizens a voice in global policy decisions
Posted: May 01, 2015
https://asunews.asu.edu/20150501-wwviews-climate-energy-citizen-input

Eric Sheptock never thought anyone cared about his take on biodiversity. After all, he wasn’t a scientist – he was a homelessness advocate living in a shelter himself. But when he was approached to take part in the World Wide Views on Biodiversity in 2012, Sheptock was excited to share his opinions and feel like an important part of the process.

It’s that kind of diverse citizen input that organizers are seeking for the next WWViews event, this time on climate change and energy. It will be a one-day event that rolls out in time zones around the world on June 6, with more than 5,000 citizens and 50 countries participating.

It begins at dawn in the Pacific Islands and heads west until ending at dusk at ASU’s Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes. The views will be incorporated into the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in December.

Finding a truly representative group of citizens to participate is a challenge. In Arizona, for example, the 100-person group will need to include 14 people who don’t have a high school diploma to reflect the educational demographics identified by the 2010 U.S. Census. When the goal is to get input from a truly representative citizen group, those opinions count as much as anyone else’s.

“Even if someone hasn’t finished high school, he or she is still a citizen of this particular geography. They have their views, and they may be different than those embraced by the educated community, but that doesn’t mean those views should be neglected,” said Netra Chhetri, who has long supported involving all citizens in the planning and development of policies that they will ultimately have to live with.

Chhetri, associate professor with the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes and senior sustainability scientist with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, is a WWViews project director.

“We want to honor the multiple views about climate and energy because the policy or outcome of this UN framework should be useful for everybody,” Chhetri said.

Perhaps just as valuable as providing genuine citizen input to United Nations proceedings, however, is the impact of the deliberation experience on the individual participants.

“They will sit with five fellow citizens with different backgrounds and ethnicities for eight hours to deliberate and listen to others. Think of the possible empowerment that might happen while listening to others and having others listen to you,” Chhetri said.

After the 2012 WWViews on Biodiversity, for example, one 82-year-old woman came up and hugged Chhetri. She was grateful that the university and the UN still cared about her experience and insight.

Another woman who participated in the 2009 WWViews on Global Warming couldn’t read or write. She was so honored when she received the information booklet in the mail from a university – a place where she had never before set foot – that she asked her daughter to take the information to her middle school to discuss it with her teacher and class and get recommendations for what to say at the event.

“You not only educated an illiterate woman, you have excited and empowered her,” Chhetri said. “And because of her inability to read, she was compelled to pass this to a new generation and her class. One thing touched two generations.”

Mahmud Farooque, associate director of the consortium’s Washington, D.C., office and another WWViews project manager, agreed that the long-term benefits of the experience are immeasurable.

“It’s not just one day, one event,” Farooque said. “It has a multiplier effect in terms of getting people informed, engaged, and thinking more collectively about these things.”

Standard approaches to outreach, however, such as listservs, posters and pamphlets, frequently fail when attempting to engage lower-income, illiterate or non-English-speaking citizens. Chhetri and his colleagues had to figure out different ways to reach those people and persuade them to participate, including sending fliers in handwritten envelopes to low-income neighborhoods, advertising on Telemundo and the Craigslist job section, and speaking to people at homeless shelters, public markets and international grocery stores. Talking with people, they’re able to emphasize that the event is for non-experts, who don’t need any specific science or current-events knowledge, to allay any potential fears of being embarrassed.

In addition to the pamphlet mailed out before the event, which is available in multiple languages, participants watch short videos to bring them up to speed on whatever issues they will deliberate. A trained facilitator makes sure that all participants get the same amount of time to talk before each person votes individually for what he or she believes is the best answer to various questions. The results are published immediately on a Web platform.

“Participants can see how their answers compare with those of citizens around the world, which is a particularly powerful experience for citizens in non-democratic countries,” Farooque said.

Participants with a variety of incomes, education levels and ethnic backgrounds, from both rural and urban areas, are still needed for the upcoming event in Tempe on June 6. The project managers are hoping that the wider ASU community might be able to provide connections to those who might be a good fit. The daylong event includes lunch and a $100 stipend, funded by ASU’s School of Sustainability. Additional stipends are also available for transportation to help meet the demographic requirements.

For more information or to apply, please visit the CSPO WWViews webpage at cspo.org/research/wwviews-climate-and-energy.
Jennifer Pillen Banks, Jennifer.P.Banks@asu.edu
480-965-8602
The Center for Nanotechnology in Society

Tools031915

World Wide Views Climate and Energy Forums in the US

In a policy breakfast seminar in Washington DC on Thursday, March 19th, ECAST team members Rick Worthington, Mahmud Farooque, David Tomblin and Gretchen Gano introduced World Wide Views on Climate and Energy (WWViews C&E) project and hosting efforts in the US. WWViews C&E is a global citizen consultation organized by the Danish Board of Technology in collaboration with Missions Publiques and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat.

On June 6, 2015, about 100 citizens representing the demographic diversity of the host countries will attend daylong meetings at sites around the world. Participants will receive the same balanced and vetted information about issues on the agenda for the December 2015 UN climate summit in Paris, and discuss these issues at tables with 8 participants and a facilitator.  Their views on these issues will be published online and presented at both preparatory meetings and at the climate summit.

ECAST, which previously coordinated the U.S. component of the 2012 World Wide Views on Biodiversity project at four US cities (Boston, Washington, Denver and Phoenix), is providing guidance, coordination and training for the 2015 WWViews C&E sites in the US, currently Boston, Tempe, Ft. Collins and St. Paul as well as working with experts at US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) to develop regional programing and outreach.