Defining community and measuring change | eePRO @ NAAEE

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Defining community and measuring change

Notes from the 10/16 session:
Community: classroom community, ecological definition of community, community of practice, community of geography, can be defined by the group and can expand or contract. Communities are nested and overlapping. Do we need to bound communities, and are those fuzzy or more hard? With research sometimes boundaries are necessary in order to obtain data/measurements. Don't forget to ask the stakeholders what they see as their community. Sometimes leaving boundaries implicit and unstated can be less advantageous than having them explicit and transparent. Is the non-human a part of any of our communities? Ask organizations who supports their mission to get at broadening the community.

How do we expand and who counts? Asking stakeholders is one way. Consider biotic factors. Sometimes including certain communities preclude inclusion of other communities (6 America's of climate change as an example). We call a decision consensual even when all people present agree. The same for bounding a community - we bound it, but then can be more inclusive even without that boundary. Within a given community who does not feel invited or welcomed. Think about power differentiation, and how to flip that, perhaps intentionally at times. Always question the edges -- are they the right edges? What types of practices do you need to implement to be respectful of other cultures? Sometimes the outsider should not recruit to the community, but let the community bring in their peers. How do we accomplish these goals with the real constraints of publication and scholarship, especially for new scholars? Ethically, sometimes doing what seems to be needed to earn trust is just not feasible. Broaden the community of researchers to reflect diversity that permits better research practices.

How do we measure the change within communities? Social networks we measure density. Connection exists with resilience, so connections biologically as well as socially. Use measures ecologists have used for some time to measure social communities, like biodiversity or species diversity. Meta populations and metacommunities and the connections between them, and how easily populations move between areas -- the more connected you are and the larger your size as a community the more likely you are to succeed and be resilient. Close knit communities tend to move quickly, but you get more innovation from the weaker ties where you are bringing in something new. Everything is at a point, or points, in time, so remember that things have changed by any time when you publish/write. We are always looking at snapshots. Ask what changed and also ask how did you know.