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Scenario Planning for Sustainable Dark Skies: Altering Mental Models and Environmental Attitudes Through Scenario Planning

Authors:
  • University of Colorado - Denver

Abstract and Figures

Recent research within the field of natural resource management has been devoted to studying the cognitive structures, called mental models, that guide people’s thoughts, actions, and decision-making. Artificial lighting threatens the sustainability of pristine night skies around the world and is growing worldwide at an average rate of six-percent per year. Despite these trends, stakeholders’ mental models of night skies have been unexplored. This study will address this gap by eliciting stakeholders’ mental models of dark skies. Scenario planning has become a pervasive tool across diverse sectors to analyze complex systems for making decisions under uncertainty. The theory of scenario planning hypothesizes that scenario planning contributes to learning and improves upon participants’ mental models. However, there have been scant empirical studies attempting to investigate these two claims. Stakeholders’ mental models of dark skies were mapped while simultaneously testing the hypotheses that participation in scenario planning results in more complex mental models and alters environmental attitudes. Twenty-one Arizona stakeholders participated in one of two workshops during September 2016. Three identical surveys were given to measure knowledge, environmental attitudes and mental model change during the workshops. Knowledge gain peaked during the introductory lecture and continued to increase during the workshop. Scenario planning increased participants’ environmental attitudes from anthropocentric to nature-centered and was found to have a significant positive impact on dark sky advocates’ change in mental model complexity. The most prominent drivers affecting dark skies were identified using social network analysis of the pre and post mental models. The most prominent concepts were altered significantly from pre to post workshop suggesting that scenario planning may aid practitioners in understanding exogenous factors to their area of expertise. These findings have critical theoretical and managerial implications of mental model alteration, environmental attitudes, and the future of Arizona’s night skies. A revised theoretical framework is offered to include environmental attitudes into the theory of scenario planning and a conceptual framework was created to illustrate the most salient drivers affecting or being affected by dark skies
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... Included are the four top-mentioned concepts for each factor. Source:Hobbins (2016) professional artist for more than 25 years, Neil Rizos has lived and worked throughout the Americas and Europe, from the tundra to the tropics. Currently, he calls the Phoenix area home. ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
In this edition of the Cactus Wrendition of the Maricopa Audubon Society, I discuss the concept of light pollutions and its social, ecological, and technological impacts. As this is written for an environmental conservation organization focused on bird conservation, this article goes into depth on the impacts of light pollution on wildlife and birds in particular. This article shares some of my findings from my master thesis on sustainable dark skies.
Book
This book, first published in 1987, is a landmark contribution to macrosociology that extends the tradition of Sorokin, Durkheim, Marx, Weber and other founders of the discipline in new and exciting directions. Using their innovative content analysis methodology to examine American and British political documents, the authors show that the long-term dynamics of culture are subject to their own laws and are independent of the actions of 'great men' and other individual actors. This comprehensive volume brings together over two decades of the authors' research on culture indicators. Key findings include the identification of two long-term cultural cycles in the United States and Great Britain: one is related to party realignments, the other to long-term economic fluctuations. In addition, the authors demonstrate how culture provides the themes that political parties use to interpret economic conditions in their appeal for votes. Other results show that organizational cultures move in opposite directions from those in the culture of the larger society. The book also includes detailed discussions of both the methodology used to analyse text content and related metatheoretical issues in the study of cultural dynamics.