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Making Civic Engagement More Accessible and Measurable
Proceedings of the 2019 Mississippi Water Resources Conference
Year: 2019 Authors: Cossman R.E., Ziogas I.
Regulatory agencies, grant-making foundations, and those with an interest in the environment recognize both the value of, and need for, civic engagement, however it is defined. For example, regulatory agencies recognize that once they move their focus, and resources from a designated area, there is still the need for sustained environmental stewardship at that site. In our EPA-funded study we explored how civic engagement was defined and viewed, how "success" was measured and how environmental outcomes were quantified. Now we pivot to how can we make the civic engagement process more accessible, and how can we measure impact and how can we nurture sustainability. Generally, we found that "civic engagement" (as it relates to environmental issues) is poorly defined, the process is inadequately understood, and there is a lack of metrics by which to measure impact or success. These finding starkly illustrate both the current gaps in the field as well as the need to develop operational definitions and metrics. Both regulatory agencies, who expend public funds, and private foundations, are in serious need of metrics that can measure outcomes and accountability. We offer three actionable recommendations towards developing actionable Environmental Civic Engagement (ECE) measurements: (1) The creation of an "umbrella" organization, or center, that will facilitate interdisciplinary discourse and cooperation with funding agencies and government authorities on the subject of ECE. (2) The development of a clear and concise programmatic research agenda. (3) Establishing a common repository of ECE-driven data. Moving forward we hope to develop a collaborative research agenda with the input and support of regulatory agencies and private foundations.