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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Rangeland Resources & Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #351366

Title: Poetic inquiry as a research and engagement method in natural resource science

item FERNANDEZ-GIMENEZ, MARIA - Colorado State University
item JENNINGS, LOUISE - Colorado State University
item Wilmer, Hailey

Submitted to: Society and Natural Resources
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/31/2018
Publication Date: 8/13/2018
Citation: Fernandez-Gimenez, M., Jennings, L., Wilmer, H.N. 2018. Poetic inquiry as a research and engagement method in natural resource science. Society and Natural Resources.

Interpretive Summary: As the sustainable management of natural resources becomes more complex, scientists need new ways to understand human motivations and experience. This paper describes a novel method for social science research in natural resources: poetic analysis. The paper defines the method and the criteria by which it has been evaluated in the social sciences for rigor and quality. The paper also presents case studies that describe different ways that poetic analysis has been used. These include using poetry to analyze qualitative data, to translate rangeland science, to facilitate collaborative science, to humanize research and science, and as a tool for teaching. Each case study draws upon the experience of the authors and upon a different form of poetry. The paper concludes by considering the limitations, challenges and opportunities that poetry brings to natural resource social science.

Technical Abstract: Complex and “wicked” natural resource issues often require interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary research approaches—that is, methods that span boundaries among physical, natural and social sciences, and, increasingly, the humanities, and that engage multiple sectors of society in the research process. Social-ecological systems approaches acknowledge and grapple with the complexity of dynamics within and feedbacks between natural and social systems, but have been criticized for failing to sufficiently incorporate the subjective lived experience, agency, culture and power dynamics of people within these systems in investigations that often privilege an institutional analytical lens and modelling methodologies. We propose that poetic analysis, a well-established qualitative methodology in education and health sciences, together with poetry-based approaches to stakeholder engagement and science translation, offer a novel set of methods for data generation, analysis, communication and engagement for natural resource social scientists. We summarize the history and applications of poetic analysis in other sciences, present case studies of poetic analysis in natural resource social science, engagement and science translation, and reflect on the opportunities and limitations of poetry as a method for research, engagement and science translation.