11.959 Reforming Natural Resources Governance: Failings of Scientific Rationalism and Alternatives for Building Common Ground

January (IAP) 2007

A cougar in the wild.
Scientific management of the cougar is the subject of the first lecture. (Image courtesy of the National Park Service.)

Course Highlights

This course features a full set of readings and lecture notes.

Course Description

For the last century, precepts of scientific management and administrative rationality have concentrated power in the hands of technical specialists, which in recent decades has contributed to widespread disenfranchisement and discontent among stakeholders in natural resources cases. In this seminar we examine the limitations of scientific management as a model both for governance and for gathering and using information, and describe alternative methods for informing and organizing decision-making processes. We feature cases involving large carnivores in the West (mountain lions and grizzly bears), Northeast coastal fisheries, and adaptive management of the Colorado River. There will be nightly readings and a short written assignment.
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Dr. Herman Karl
Dr. David Mattson

Course Meeting Times

Five sessions for 1 week
4 hours / session