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Bartels, W. L., Furman, C. A., Diehl, D. D., Royce, F. S., Dourte, D. R., Ortiz, B. V., et al. (2013). Warming up to climate change: A participatory approach to engaging with agricultural stakeholders in the Southeast US.
Reg. Environ. Change
Within the context of a changing climate, scientists are called to engage directly with agricultural stakeholders for the coproduction of relevant information that will support decision making and adaptation. However, values, beliefs, identities, goals, and social networks shape perceptions and actions about climate change. Engagement processes that ignore the socio-cultural context within which stakeholders are embedded may fail to guide adaptive responses. To facilitate dialog around these issues, the Southeast Climate Consortium and the Florida Climate Institute formed a climate learning network consisting of row crop farmers, agricultural extension specialists, researchers, and climate scientists working in the Southeast US. Regional in scope, the learning network engages researchers and practitioners from Alabama, Georgia, and Florida as partners in adaptation science. This paper describes the ongoing interactions, dialog, and experiential learning among the network�s diverse participants. We illustrate how participatory tools have been used in a series of workshops to create interactive spaces for knowledge coproduction. For example, historical timelines, climate scenarios, and technology exchanges stimulated discussions about climate-related risk management. We present findings from the workshops related to participants� perspectives on climate change and adaptation. Finally, we discuss lessons learned that may be applicable to other groups involved in climate education, communication, and stakeholder engagement. We suggest that the thoughtful design of stakeholder engagement processes can become a powerful social tool for improving decision support and strengthening adaptive capacity within rural communities.
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