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Part IV. Finding Agreement
Road Map to Part IV
To foster reasonableness and bring out the best in people requires reaching common ground. Our different experiences, however, can make that a challenging task. While such differences are often an asset, they can also lead to conflict, confrontation, disagreements, and cross-purposes. The three chapters in this section provide different ways of moving toward a shared understanding and seeking resolution across different perspectives.
Martha Monroe’s chapter looks at contexts where disparate perspectives need to be considered in order to manage shared local environmental resources. The professional managers who are involved in these situations are often not trained to incorporate the views of diverse publics who lack their ecological expertise. Achieving collaboration thus requires ways to share mental models and reach understanding about ways to achieve adaptive management goals. Monroe offers concrete examples of the processes that were used to address these challenges.
Mediation is a widely practiced process for helping parties find agreement. The contrast between the initial encounter when the parties are at odds and often confrontational and the conclusion when common ground has been achieved can be so striking that the process seems magical. However, Karen Hollett shows us that much as with the resource management cases discussed by Monroe, mediation relies on communication that aims to build shared mental models. The mediator’s toolbox consists of ways to guide that process to enable the parties to reach an understanding of their multiple perspectives and of mutually acceptable resolutions to their concerns.
Even for concepts we use constantly and know very well, it is very difficult for any of us to explain these mental models to others. What is your mental model of urban greening? of stewardship? of our common humanity? Finding agreement is all the more difficult, since sharing mental models is rarely straightforward. Anne Kearney’s chapter is devoted to a tool that helps to reveal mental models in a shareable form. With tangible representations of our invisible mental models, it becomes much easier to work toward solutions and resolutions.
Thus, across very different contexts and using different approaches, the chapters in this section address ways to share mental models and find agreement. The joys and struggles of mental models and the costs and benefits of expertise all come into play in these chapters. In addition, however, the chapters show us how supportive environments can facilitate the challenges.
Chapter 14: Martha C. Monroe, “Working toward Resolutions in Resource Management”
Communication between experts and laypeople is one of the great challenges in complex problems such as climate change and many resource management decisions. Working together to solve problems is an ideal that can only be achieved when people have the necessary mental models and feel motivated by the possibility of making a difference. Martha Monroe’s chapter shares ways to improve communication and participation in these difficult contexts. She also emphasizes the importance of developing trust and respect between stakeholders, themes that are central to fostering reasonableness.
Chapter 15: Karen R. Hollett, “The Magic of Mediation and the Reasonable Person Model in Action”
The shift from stakeholders in deep conflict to the same parties reaching a mutually acceptable resolution can seem magical. Karen Hollett, however, shows us that the Reasonable Person Model (RPM) provides a framework that explains both how this can happen and how it can help a mediator structure the path. As she says, the conceptualization of the environment as a series of information patterns and consideration of how these patterns affect human functioning are important ways in which RPM helps us make sense of the magic and understand the mediator’s role in the process.
Chapter 16: Anne R. Kearney, “3CM: A Tool for Knowing ‘Where They’re At’”
With strong connections to the chapters by Rachel Kaplan on mental models and Stephen Kaplan on expertise, Anne Kearney provides us with a tool that helps externalize our invisible mental models. She shows that the Conceptual Content Cognitive Map (3CM) process is not only engaging but also powerful as a way to share diverse perspectives with respect to a common issue. Kearney provides detailed information about ways to use this tool and how to analyze the results.