Understanding and managing today’s most pressing environmental problems, requires integration of different types of knowledges, perspectives, and ways of knowing. For instance, recent work from the fifth National Climate Assessment suggests that climate risk management across sectors requires understanding not only of the interdependent human-natural systems, but also of decision-making processes, actors impacted by decisions, as well as politics, ideologies, values, and institutions. Such varied knowledge stems not just from different academic disciplines, but also from practitioners, local communities, policy-makers, Indigenous knowledge holders, etc. This knowledge can also take many forms including data and modeling, case studies, experiential knowledge, citizen data, narratives, lived experiences, etc. Yet, a majority of multi-sector dynamics research focuses on quantitative data and modeling that is generated through processes that only includes a narrow set of academic expertise and actors.
Participatory and collaborative research approaches such as co-production have the potential to bring together diverse knowledge-holders and generate actionable science. However, not all such efforts are successful in meaningfully integrating conflicting or competing perspectives and information. Using the case studies of two long-term co-production projects that bring together diverse actors, we discuss practical challenges while integrating different knowledges and perspectives into research processes and products.
We highlight learnings from a US Department of Energy funded fundamental science project, HyperFACETS, that brings together a variety of scientists with energy, water, and land managers, to collaboratively develop improved data and modeling approaches. We also draw from a California Energy Commission funded project, Cal-Adapt Analytics Engine, that co-develops data analytics and tools with scientists, software developers, policy and engagement experts, electricity sector decision-makers and community members. Within these two different cases, we illustrate the various epistemic, worldview, and value “clashes” that we encountered, and the strategies used to overcome them.