Arlington, VA, United States
Arlington, VA, United States

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Johnson K.A.,University of Minnesota | Dana G.,Dana and Sharpe Risk Associates | Jordan N.R.,University of Minnesota | Draeger K.J.,University of Minnesota | And 3 more authors.
Ecology and Society | Year: 2012

Interdependent human and biophysical systems are highly complex and behave in unpredictable and uncontrollable ways. Social and ecological challenges that emerge from this complexity often defy straightforward solutions, and efforts to address these problems will require not only scientific and technological capabilities but also learning and adaptation. Scenarios are a useful tool for grappling with the uncertainty and complexity of social-ecological challenges because they enable participants to build adaptive capacity through the contemplation of multiple future possibilities. Furthermore, scenarios provide a platform for social learning, which is critical to acting in the face of uncertain, complex, and conflict-laden problems. We studied the Minnesota 2050 project, a collaborative project through which citizens collectively imagined future scenarios and contemplated the implications of these possibilities for the adaptability of their social and environmental communities. Survey and interview data indicate that these participatory scenario workshops built and strengthened relationships, enhanced participants' understanding of other perspectives, and triggered systemic thinking, all of which is relevant to collective efforts to respond to social-ecological challenges through sustainable development activities. Our analysis shows that participatory scenarios can stimulate social learning by enabling participants to engage and to discuss options for coping with uncertainty through collaborative actions. Such learning can be of value to participants and to the organizations and decisions in which they are engaged, and scenario processes can be effective tools for supporting collaborative sustainable development efforts. © 2012 by the author(s).


Dana G.V.,Dana and Sharpe Risk Associates | Cooper A.M.,ICES Inc | Pennington K.M.,University of Minnesota | Sharpe L.S.,University of Minnesota
Biological Invasions | Year: 2014

Genetic biocontrol of invasive aquatic species proposes to introduce, for control purposes, a genetically modified (GM) version of an invasive fish species to a targeted aquatic environment. Safe deployment and long term use of such technologies will depend on identifying and managing possible unintended effects to the natural environment. Environmental risk analysis (ERA) is a method for identifying the likelihood and consequences of unintended impacts, and for developing risk management strategies. For the unique situation of genetically modified biocontrol organisms (GMBOs), we review the latest thinking in ERA methodologies for GM fish and explore how terminology and assumptions from ERAs of traditional, non-modified biocontrol organisms and GM fish will need to be recast in ERAs of GMBOs. We also outline some special considerations that an ERA of a GMBOs will have to contend with: non-intuitive potential hazards; uncertainty introduced by extrapolating from domestic systems to natural ecosystems; redundancy in risk management options; and challenges of stakeholder engagement related to new technologies. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


Kuiken T.,Woodrow Wilson Center | Dana G.,Dana and Sharpe Risk Associates | Oye K.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Rejeski D.,Woodrow Wilson Center
Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences | Year: 2014

Synthetic biology is an interdisciplinary field that brings together biology and engineering at its core. Understanding and evaluating the ecological effects of synthetic biology applications also require broad interdisciplinary convergence and the ability to adapt to rapid technological developments. This article describes a series of workshops designed to provide a space for interdisciplinary groups of synthetic biologists, natural and social scientists, and other stakeholders to identify priority ecological hazards and to begin to design research programs to inform ecological risk assessments and risk management of synthetic biology applications. Participants identified gene flow, fitness, and competition as the key hazards of synthetic biology applications using engineered microorganisms. The rapid pace of synthetic biology research and product development, the potential environmental release of numerous applications, and the diffuse and diverse nature of the research community are prompting renewed attention on how to design robust ecological risk research programs to investigate such hazards. © 2014 AESS.

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