Panel: Policy Networks and Sustainability through an Advocacy Coalition Framework Lens
(Natural Resource, Energy, and Environmental Policy)

Friday, November 9, 2018: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Truman - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Chairs:  Adam Douglas Henry, University of Arizona
Discussants:  Lena Berger, University of Basil and Hongtao Yi, The Ohio State University

How Environmental Shocks Affect Policy-Oriented Learning
Emily Virginia Bell, University of California, Davis

Cross-Coalition Collaboration in U.S. Environmental Risk Policy
Georgia W Pfeiffer1, Thomas Dietz2 and Adam Douglas Henry1, (1)University of Arizona, (2)Michigan State University

Sustainability Innovations through Collaboration in Urban Water Management
Adam Douglas Henry, Edna Liliana Gomez Fernandez and Gary Pivo, University of Arizona

Many problems of sustainability are scientifically complex, engage high stakes conflicts over interests and values, and are not neatly confined to a single level of decisionmaking (e.g., local versus global) or functional domain such as public health, water, or land use. Over the last four decades, the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) has emerged as a major theoretical framework to understand the policy process surrounding such complex and divisive issues. The ACF focuses on the dynamics of policy subsystems, particularly how coalitions of policy stakeholders form coalitions to translate their belief systems into public policy. The ACF presents a view of policymaking where scientific debates are confounded with conflicts over values and beliefs, and where scientific evidence is often used as an advocacy tool rather than a tool to promote learning and problem improvement.

At the same time, it is increasingly recognized that social and policy networks—meaning the patterns of interaction among policy stakeholders—are one potential pathway for increased learning, problem solving, and innovation in policy systems. This is because networks provide policy stakeholders with access to information about salient problems, the beliefs and behaviors of other subsystem actors, as well as resources that may be used to address sustainability problems. By forming networks that span fragmented communities and integrate different knowledge systems and resources, it is believed that policy participants will have an increased capacity to manage uncertain, emerging, and complex problems.

Networks have long been an important concept within the ACF. An emerging collection of scholarship on the ACF uses network analysis to aid in the measurement of key concepts, such as the identification of coalitions and central actors, and to state and test hypotheses about how coalitions behave and evolve over time. Ultimately, this work gives greater clarity to the ACF as a theory, and enables us to search for practical strategies that may be used to attenuate conflict and promote more sustainable outcomes in policy systems from the local to the global level.

This session brings together four papers that collectively showcase cutting-edge research in the application of network analysis to study environmental problems, particularly using the Advocacy Coalition Framework. Each paper represents a unique dataset and research question drawn from the ACF, across multiple policy domains and subsystems ranging in scope from a single municipality’s response to water scarcity and stress, to a national subsystem focused on responding to environmental risk.