Public debate, collective learning process and soil-plant system expertise: when scientific knowledge becomes socially distributed

Conference object English OPEN
Cornélis, Jean-Thomas ; Cornelis, Mathieu ; International Symposium on Change in governance as collective learning (2009)

Here, we aim to develop the conditions of possibility of a collective learning process for the forest ecosystem governance. We argue that stakeholders’ discussion and public debate should be intrinsically interconnected with the expertise of the soil-plant cycle. As Chris Argyris underlines, “[i]t is possible to develop knowledge, both valid and which can be “put into action” in everyday life” and which “provides an opportunity to test it in everyday life”. Primary forest is the most biologically diverse type of vegetation system and is characterized by a balance between biomass production and soil evolution. Soil, as the nutrient source, plays a crucial role in the forest productivity. Currently, only 21% of the world forests are indigenous. Human activities, through the “production paradox”, disrupt this homeostasis between the nutrient source and the vegetal production. The mobility of nutrients in the soil-plant system has to be taken into account for sustainable forest governance. Then, the knowledge of the relationship between soil and plant is a “proper way to compose, decompose, or recompose problem sets” and could also be a proper possibility of “controversy” that allows us to elaborate a collective and critical learning process which “entails an appreciation of complexity and an effort to integrate problems into a more comprehensive whole”. Finally, our governance hypothesis focuses on a critical environmental ethics which integrates both the common sense moral feelings involving stakeholders and the knowledge of causal relationship in a forest ecosystem (i.e. soil-plant cycle). This critical environmental ethics will be established on a “critical knowledge” as Jean Ladrière underlines it into his work on science and rationality.
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