Cooperative Modeling: Building Bridges Between Science And The Public

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kristan Cockerill Ph.D., Associate Professor (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
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Abstract: As freshwater resources become more scarce and water management becomes more contentious, new planning approaches are essential to maintain ecologic, economic, and social stability. One technique involves cooperative modeling in which scientists and stakeholders work together to develop a computer simulation model to assist in planning efforts. In the Middle Rio Grande region of New Mexico, where water management is hotly debated, a stakeholder team used a system dynamics approach to create a computer simulation model to facilitate producing a regional plan. While the model itself continues to be valuable, the process for creating the model was also valuable in helping stakeholders jointly develop understanding of and approaches to addressing complex issues. In this paper, the authors document results from post-project interviews designed to identify strengths and weaknesses of cooperative modeling; to determine if and how the model facilitated the planning process; and to solicit advice for others considering model aided planning. Modeling team members revealed that cooperative modeling did facilitate water planning. Interviewees suggested that other groups try to reach consensus on a guiding vision or philosophy for their project and recognize that cooperative modeling is time intensive. The authors also note that using cooperative modeling as a tool to build bridges between science and the public requires consistent communication about both the process and the product.

Additional Information

Cockerill, Kristan, Howard Passell, and Vince Tidwell, 2006. Cooperative Modeling: Building Bridges Between Science and the Public. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 42(2):457-471. Publisher version of record available at:
Language: English
Date: 2006
water resource planning, public participation, water policy, cooperative modeling, system dynamics

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