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Knowledge Mobilizers: achieving climate success through empowering the motivated
I sat down with Mark Jaccard, professor and director of SFU’s School of Resource and Environmental Management to discuss his latest book, The Citizen's Guide to Climate Success: Overcoming Myths That Hinder Progress.
Making this an open access book, with every chapter freely available to read online is one of many examples of Jaccard’s well-focused tactics for mobilizing knowledge throughout his academic career.
Despite Jaccard’s impressive resume of accolades, esteemed roles and awards for addressing climate change, he says his career is in a place now where he is more focused on what is critically important today for ensuring a sustainable future.
For him, the key is addressing climate change through empowering climate concerned citizens, which is the knowledge mobilization goal of his new book as well as his work over the last ten years.
Letting the evidence inform your knowledge mobilization strategy
In his book, he incorporates strategic evidence from multiple disciplines, including psychology, sociology, resource analysis, and economic assessment. Some of this evidence informs Jaccard’s knowledge mobilization strategy, such as focusing on a specific audience.
As he explains, “humans will not all arrive at the same conclusion based on the same evidence or information.” Therefore, he focuses on climate concerned citizens, and encourages others to focus their climate messaging to them as well, rather than climate deniers. This is the first of three key messages he explains in the book.
His second message is that we need to find the simple, strategic path by identifying what is essential to solving the problem, and in turn let go of the well-meaning, but distracting or overly complex “agenda hitching solutions.”
The book’s third message is that context matters. Not everyone in every province or country needs to do the same thing. In implementation practice we would emphasize the importance of adapting solutions to the context, which is similar to this third message.
For example, as region B.C. already consumes renewable, hydroelectric energy production, the climate actions that our province needs to take to reduce emissions will be different than a region that is more dependent upon coal. Consideration needs to be given for current and developing infrastructure, as well as natural and geographic factors. As Jaccard says, “solve it the way it works for them, don’t be an eco-dictator.”
Empowering citizens through human connection and addressing their concerns
Jaccard ensures the messages in his book are relatable, take into consideration the human condition and have the potential for ongoing relevance. There are a number of familiar examples covering a range of topics from smoking to acid rain policies, (making note of the varying degrees of progress made) to illustrate key messages and strategies. The ongoing relevance is ensured through clever tools for the climate concerned citizen to use moving forward, such as a flowchart for assessing a politician’s climate sincerity.
While the book aims to empower the climate concerned citizen to contribute to climate success, Jaccard applied some of the lessons from his book in real time during the last federal election, providing assessments of the climate platforms from all the parties and sharing them via social and traditional media platforms. He is actively working on informing policy through participation on committees, providing consultations, and speaking engagements.
Interested in hearing more from the Knowledge Mobilization Hub?
Check out our upcoming workshop, “Research impact evaluation 101” on November 17th, 2021.
Knowledge Mobilizers is a story series from the Knowledge Mobilization Hub that highlights knowledge mobilization (KM) projects around the university. At SFU, KM is about collaborating on, and exchanging, research discoveries to create a positive impact in our far-reaching communities.