As we look back over the past decade at the great deal of work that has supported the development and incorporation of the principles of sustainability into many of the institutions of civil society, including colleges and universities, several issues stand out.
First, there has been significant progress in accepting the usefulness of a loose definition of the term. This enables all stakeholders to create and use appropriate working definitions that fit a range of situations.
Second, we have done a great job of learning about the implications of sustainability at the individual level. We have involved ourselves in local government initiatives to reduce the damaging aspects of “footprint” in our neighborhoods, towns and cities. Many are thoughtful about reducing their personal environmental footprints and those of their families and households. Many individuals have taken successful leadership roles in the workplace, including at colleges and universities, around these issues and have been partially successful in institutionalizing concepts. Second Nature’s website contains over 250 stories or profiles that attest to the many college and university projects that have been completed to try to effect large and small scale change. And there are many other success stories from business enterprise and the corporate world.
Third, there are large scale projects attempting to make serious and accurate measurements of progress towards sustainability. There has been an explosive growth in ‘Sustainable City’ initiatives across the country – there are now over 200 of these projects currently in existence  – and all began with Alan AtKisson and Lee Hatcher in Seattle in 1990/91. Other significant indicator projects include, among many others, the work of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the Global Reporting Initiative.
In this past decade we have seen a significant shift in public discourse towards the issues of sustainability, and even some of the more conservative major research universities are exploring how to respond and move forward. For example global climate disruption, human and animal disease epidemics, natural resource damage and depletion, and sprawl, among other issues, receive regular front-page coverage while simultaneously comprise an important part of the university research agenda.
However, we have not made much progress in institutional learning about sustainability, and not just in higher education institutions. A small number of corporations and businesses have made significant strategic shifts towards accounting for a “triple bottom line” and others are seriously exploring how to do this – but these are still a minute fraction of the whole sector. In this paper I suggest that there are some inherent issues in the organizational structure of colleges and universities that make it problematic for these institutions to undertake large scale changes in a short time period on their own. I will expand on four concepts that we at Second Nature have found promising in promoting organizational learning around innovations. The first concept involves recognition of the dynamically integrated campus around sustainability issues; the second is the need for the formation and support of communities of practice; the third is the need to explore the process of innovation diffusion and to make it a component of the discourse within and between the communities of practice; and the fourth is the adoption of innovation through best practice analyses and benchmarking.
In this paper, I have tried to capture something of the essence of these great institutions and I have tried to connect this to our aspiration for their potential future leadership role in society. The ideas outlined below are distilled from six years of institutional experience, gleaned from convening over 40 workshops with more than 1500 participants. Participants came from all segments of the 250 colleges and universities that were represented at these meetings. We have also drawn on the rich source of information provided by our stakeholders and audience that has accumulated on our website, to refine the workshops over time to reflect our own organizational learning on this issue.
As many of us know first-hand, slowness to change might almost be a defining feature of the modern college or university. Nonetheless, over the past 30 years higher education institutions helped create and have adopted, albeit slowly, a range of useful corporate management tools to their benefit. Some management techniques were tried and discarded without a trace (eg. Management by Objectives – MBO), others leave small traces (eg. Total Quality Management – TQM, Continuous Quality Improvement – CQI), and a few actually alter the landscape but not in ways that were expected (eg. Strategic Planning and Environmental Scanning). The latest wave includes Responsibility-Centered Management (RCM), Benchmarking and Pay-for-Performance. The influence of these last three is not yet known.
Many colleges and universities are attempting to honor their social contract to society, albeit within fairly narrow frames of reference. Often this is the result of student pressure – an example of this is the accelerated interest in service-learning. As a result the academy has become more aware and responsive to its major clients – the students – better at accounting for money, and more sophisticated at marketing . Some of these changes are related to the long term stability – sustainability – of the organization but very narrowly focused on financial sustainability. If these are our greatest and most enduring institutions, how have they managed to survive?
Colleges and universities are among the oldest institutions in existence – about one millennium. In contrast, there are a handfull of corporations that have existed for two- to three-hundred years, and most other institutions have lifespans measured in years or at most decades. From the stakeholders point of view the stereotypic college or university consists of three types of organizations contained within one system: institution (academy), enterprise and agency. Balderston describes this larger institution as ‘boundaryless’, given that the stakeholder profile can be general enough to include a large number of other civic and corporate institutions. Broadly speaking, the faculty and students generally view it as an institution, the trustees and some administrators consider it to be an enterprise, and governmental and, increasingly, corporate sponsors regard it as an agency. A deeper examination of the responsiveness to change in each of these components provides a hint of why colleges and universities have a powerful reputation for being slow to change. It shows that contradictory views exist among stakeholders of the capability of these organizations to embrace innovations of any type or even, with certain issues, to make decisions that are endorsed across the organization (Table 1).
Table 1. The responsiveness to innovation in three stakeholder components of higher education institutions.
|Component||Stakeholders||Drivers for change||Responsiveness to innovation||Reasons|
|strongly discipline based.||Faculty – slower
Students – quicker
|Debate and discuss
less concern for institutional consequences
|Agency||Government agencies Corporations||Rules and regulation||Variable – tend to be slow||used to a culture of inertia, have some suspicion of change as political fallout|
|Enterprise||Governing Board President Senior
|most excited by economic and business models||Quick||responsiveness to market requires this|
Where did these entities originate? In the next section I have presented some historical detail for three reasons: 1) assistance with locating leverage points for change within the matrix of the organization; 2) the history provides clues about processes and mechanisms that would support or encourage transformation; and 3) to provide a larger context in which to consider future leadership by colleges and universities.
The academy is the oldest of the three components of the boundaryless organization described by Balderston. It also forms the basis of the original universities. In Europe the first universities were founded in the early 1300’s in Edinburgh, Bologna and Paris, although the idea of the Academy can be attributed to Plato. Over the next two centuries (1300 – 1500) universities were established in other parts of Europe including Cambridge and Oxford. In the 1600’s Harvard (1636), Yale and Columbia were established modeled on the older European Institutions. Harvard, founded by Puritans and modeled after Oxford, had a distinctly religious intention in its mission. This pattern was repeated as the colonists spread westward in almost every major settlement. By the time the colonies joined to form a union (1776), there were nine colleges. Less than 100 years later at the time of the Civil War there were 250 colleges. The curriculum in these early schools centered on the study of Latin, Greek and religious philosophy (usually Christianity) with the later addition of other literature, some humanities and only much later the social and basics sciences. Humanities and languages formed the core of the liberal arts tradition for a bachelors degree.
In the period 1800 – 1900 research universities appeared and began to spread in Europe and the United States. In the first half of the 19th Century in Europe, there was an established tradition at the Royal Institution in England. The French Institutions of Higher Education and the German Research Universities were founded, together with other Science Centers in other parts of Europe. Germany became a clear international leader in chemistry, physics and agricultural sciences. This excellent track record suggested that this was the best model to use in the US and it was duly adopted.
By the early nineteenth century in the US, there was an emerging sense that universities should be teaching more applied arts and mechanics. During this time there were many more proposals for funding to teach such things and to create departments to enable this. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) established in 1824, and even West Point, established in 1808, while largely military, had a strong emphasis on engineering of different kinds. Yale’s Science School was established, (WHEN?)but it was still a neglected aspect of the whole Yale institution. These applied sciences institutions were emerging, but at this early date were not very well established. In 1852, The University of Virginia became the nation’s first university, and eleven years later other states followed suite with the help of an act of congress.
In the United States in the latter part of the nineteenth century the shift from a religious-agricultural society to a largely secular-scientific and urban society was fundamentally transforming institutions of higher education. The role of science and technology in society had dramatically increased, a middle class had emerged, greater numbers of people saw education as the ticket to upward socioeconomic mobility, and new professions, largely secular, were emerging. The university had to start producing its own producers of “usable knowledge” as it geared itself to the upwardly mobile and productive society.
The Morrill or Land Grant Act of 1863 authorized the Federal Government to grant public lands to the States for the sole purpose of endowing state universities in an effort to assist the agricultural economy. This also ensured that a German-style research university was established in every state. The founding of Johns Hopkins marked the adoption of this new idea that included the allowing students to choose elective tracks, most notably concentrations in sciences. In 1871, Harvard President Charles Eliot added elective courses to the core college curriculum, hired faculty with particular specialties and transformed Harvard College into Harvard University.
By the mid 1890s, apart from the military-founded Rensselaer and West Point, there were 15 research universities, 10 of which were private (Harvard, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Yale, MIT, Cornell, Johns Hopkins and Stanford, and University of Chicago). The five state schools in existence at this time were Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and California, and Virginia, which had not yet transformed into a research institution. All 15 institutions offered Bachelors degrees in humanities, arts, social and basic sciences and graduate degrees in the major professions. By the beginning of the 20th century the research university as we know it was fully established. Its graduate schools were modeled after the successful German research university model and the undergraduate education had a foundation in the liberal arts tradition.
The creation of the modern university coincided with the increasing role of science and technology in society, that, in turn began to displace earlier forms of higher education that were controlled by the religious authorities. The institutions came to embody the eighteenth century Enlightenment ideals that fundamental truths are knowable by reason alone, and that all persons must be given an opportunity to develop and display their rational powers. This marked the beginning of the democratization of education, which was until then a largely elite enterprise.
During this period there was an emerging emphasis on applied studies. In concert with this trend came the notion that state institutions should provide direct public services. This concept of the practical applicability of education was not confined to technology; social scientists, for example, began to take on prominent roles advising governments.
Coming from different backgrounds and established for different reasons, different Universities embodied different ideals, yet they all very soon took on the same internal organization and practices. Specialization, expertise and proficiency came to define all aspects of the academy, including the humanities. Professional associations marked off turf and monopolized particular concepts and methods, making communications across the disciplines increasingly problematic.
“Before 1890, there had been room for academic programs that differed markedly from one another. During the 1890’s, in a very real sense the American academic establishment lost its freedom. To succeed in building a major university, one now has to conform to the standard structural pattern in all basic respects…a competitive market for money, students, faculty, and the prestige dictated the avoidance of pronounced eccentricities.”  (p. 339-340)
From the Progressive Era on, there was growing support for the newly cast modern Universities, both from private philanthropy and from public funding. This was going beyond the piecemeal funding of earlier times. For example the 1890 Mill Tax gave Universities a fixed percentage of all mill tax that was collected. It became necessary to separate administration from teaching in order to accommodate the growth of these institutions.
The Industrial Revolution in America was marked by scientific enterprise taking on more of a prominent role. In addition the economic and demographic shift move from farm to factory, and the resulting industrial division of labor lead to occupational specialization. A middle class began to define itself with tracks of achievement, occupations, professions, and careers. “Members of this emerging class began to see their futures in terms of the tasks they would perform in the industrial economy rather than their reputations in their local towns.” (Edgerton, pg. 2) As the social economy began to shift, there was a growing sense of discontent with the traditional models of higher education. Increasingly, people were not receiving the kind of education that they needed for the practicalities of their lives and .
The establishment of the modern research university ensured that higher education became a center of innovation for the next 80 – 100 years. Crow suggests that the evolution of US science and technology policy has been marked by three phases: a Laissez-Faire period (1790 – 1940), followed by the War and Post-war period (1940 -1950), and the Federalization Period (1950 -1975).
From 1790 – 1940 the government had no distinct science and technology policy or mission. The government did establish some key R & D labs to support weak industries (for example, mining ) but the key institutions in the national innovation system were the independent corporate R&D labs (for example, Du Pont). The newly established research universities served as the home of basic and advanced science training, with some support for research activity. Policy and research in this era was responsible for a long list on new innovations with wide positive impact on everyday life – including machine tools, sewing machines, hardware, agricultural implements, bicycles, electrification, and telegraphy and telephones title=””>.
During the war and post-war period (1940 – 1950), to support the war effort, the federal government established hundreds of new R&D institutions and an expanded role for academic science. By the mid-50’s the whole country seemed to be benefiting from this expanded role of universities; productivity was up, the tax base had increased. Then in the 1960’s the launching of Sputnik and the resulting damage to US techno-scientific pride, the emergence of the Civil Rights movement, and the baby boomers reaching college age all occurred at a time of unprecedented prosperity in the US. The resulting expansion of research, training, buildings and faculty took place with great enthusiasm and little attention to the quality of content. At this same time, another wave of standardization swept over higher education with the professionalization of research. The ideals of the German Research Institution were coming to dominate the university.
It is also no coincidence that in the early 1900s the first large philanthropic foundations were established. In 1910 there were eighteen, of which the most influential were the Carnegie and Rockefeller. Both notably focused on the advancement of basic knowledge–chemistry and physics in particular. In the 1950s and 1960s foundations were ahead of all other private sources of support for higher education. Today foundations support comprises about 20 percent of all private support, or almost $4.0 billion, ranking third behind alumni and ‘friends’ who contribute a combined 54 percent, or about ten billion dollars.
Universities became dependent on the financial prosperity of the 1940-1970’s, so the economic crisis of the 70’s inevitably led to another surge in industry relations. By 1980 The Bayh-Dole Act was passed, giving universities the legal right to patent and license the results of federally funded research. This inspired an increased interest in technology across institutions of higher education. Interestingly, much of the work in this area has been in fields that were actually part of a move away from military related endeavors and toward ‘social issues’ as an answer to much of the student backlash in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Fields such as biology and chemistry took on a new charge as the medical sciences became a beneficiary of that shift. This trend has continued and expanded as the end of the millennium approached. In 1999 we see research university research supporting the growth of microelectronics, biotechnology, new materials, robotics, aircraft manufacturing, and advanced computer design.
In this brief history, I have tried to show that, although the institution of the university or college is old, there have been many wide-ranging changes and innovations within the system, and as such, within each individual institution. What are the implications of this for the adoption and incorporation of the concepts of sustainability?
Colleges and universities continue to enjoy a high degree of public support in the US. The public compact of support is vibrant and the sector is thriving. The more than four thousand Colleges and Universities have annual expenditures of $200 billion, equivalent to about 4% of gross domestic product. Tony Cortese, David Orr and others have made an eloquent case for these institutions to take the lead in trying to achieve a complete transformation in the way we think about our connection to each other and all the natural systems in our biosphere upon which we are completely dependent. We at Second Nature have identified four particular concepts that might assist with accomplishing this vast transformation:
Based on our experience helping colleges and universities adopt sustainability innovation, we characterize the campus as “an integrated Community”. With this systems view we focus on the existence of five major and interconnected components: faculty (teaching and research); operations and physical plant; students, community outreach; and administration. This view also fully acknowledges the existence of a complex list of stakeholders, with students as the primary clients. This forms a cornerstone of Second Nature’s philosophy on institutional change. It offers an exciting range of possibilities for a variety of change agents to work together to transform an institution. Tony Cortese has written extensive and detailed material on this topic. I refer the reader to our website for more depth on this idea. This concept not only requires changes in the sub-components or nodes of the institution but also the need for significant interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary scholarly and day-to-day management activity.
The term wasfirst coined by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger as a component of analyzing andunderstanding learning. Lave and Wenger developed a complex of ideas around communities of practice in order to explain how humans learn from each other in a wider range of situations, of which the standard classroom is generally considered a narrow and special case. By drawing on observations of practice in some existing apprenticeship guilds among midwives, tailors, naval quartermasters, meat cutters and nondrinking alcoholics they were able to show some general principles operated that increased participation and knowledgeability within a group. The ideas contained in communities of practice serve as a supporting concept for Second Nature’s emphasis on development of a team approach to institutional transformation at all levels within any individual institution. For this reason teams participation is strongly encouraged at Second Nature workshops. In further support of the concept, Second Nature is currently developing resource guides that are tailored to apply to different campus stakeholders (currently for Faculty, Students, Administrators, but planning to expand this list in the future ). This facility will enable each to locate job-function relevant information more easily.
In this section I have made a distinction between adoption of innovation in colleges and universities, and the dynamics of innovation diffusion that would apply to any organization including institutions of higher education.On the other hand, based on an intensive analytical training, academics have an inherent skepticism of things originating in the world of commerce. This is not helped by any accompanying hype, the use of jargon, and a negative reaction to overly glib solutions to complex problems. In addition, in some instances a possibility exists that a rival at another college or university developed these ideas and now stands to reap significant finanacial rewards.Over the past 30 years higher education institutions have adopted a range of corporate management mechanisms to their benefit. As a result they have become more aware and responsive, better at accounting for money, and more sophisticated at marketing. For better or worse, they are more “businesslike’. Some imported techniques have also been successful and have become incorporated without much fanfare. An example of this is “program review” – initially tried and tested in federal agencies and now used in about two-thirds of all colleges and universities. It has been thoroughly adopted but its categories and guidelines reveal its true (distant) origins. Ewell suggests that fads remain fads because they don’t make the necessary cultural translation and/or because there is no particular problem for them to solve. Appropriate ideas will be readily and seemlessly employed if needed, with little opposition.Innovation diffusion theory offers some well-grounded theoretical ideas and very practical insights about harnessing and supporting the adoption of sustainability concepts. Second Nature has successfully incorporated this into workshop content with very positive feedback from participants. Recognizing that each person plays a specific role in the process of innovation diffusion–from innovators and change agents, to mainstreamers and curmudgeons–provides us with a mechanism to develop a strategy for change. For an innovation to take hold, it must satisfy the “Gilman equation”: the perceivedvalue of the new way minus the perceived value of the old way must be greater than the perceived cost of making the switch. There are five factors which influence how quickly and thoroughly an idea is adopted: the idea’s relative advantage, complexity, trialability, observability and compatibility.
With increasing pressure from stakeholders, many colleges and universities are beginning to incorporate sustainability concepts into curriculum, campus operations, research and work with communities. Every individual campus is unique, but the processes at work on each one — along with the struggles and successes of administrators, faculty, staff and students — provide valuable lessons for those just beginning and for others already well on the way. Such lessons and case-studies highlight untapped resources and spark ideas for all involved in this ground-breaking work. This process is supported by the implicit connections within each community of practice. As mentioned above, Second Nature’s website contains over 250 stories of sustainability innovation at colleges and universities and there are many others that have been documented elsewhere.
Benchmarking and best practice (henceforth ‘best practice’), while unfamiliar to higher education management as a term, has nevertheless been widely used as a process by colleges and universities, most extensively by the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC), based in Houston, Texas. Comparison with peer institutions has driven enrollments, funding, recognition, and prestige. Further more, faculty are comfortable with a culture of information sharing through a range of venues, meetings, publications, and more recently the internet.
Best practices appeared in corporations in the early 1990s in companies such as Xerox, Eastman Kodak, and DuPont. These companies claim to have achieved a range of measurable benefits including reduced cycle time, improved customer service, lower costs and improved overall product quality. They have fully integrated benchmarking into strategy, structure and culture and it is usually one of several tools being used.
Benchmarking is more than simply comparing oneself to a statistical standard. Working and learning systematically, first, it is necessary to understand internal work procedures, then to search externally for “best practices” in other organizations. These then have to be adapted to make them workable internally.
In cooperation with a number of other organizations and institutions, APQC has refined a methodology that is simple in concept and complex in execution. They emphasize that the more important information lies in the processes behind the benchmarks, and that adaptation and use of these actually lead to improved performance.
The type of benchmarking (or knowledge-sharing) that is going on in higher education is different from the process in corporations. In higher education comparisons are made among “peers institutions” more in a style of friendly rivalry. True benchmarking encourages comparisons and exchanges outside of the circle of peers to look at quite different types of organizations. Examples are Southwest Airlines mechanics talking to the pit crew of an Indy 500 race car team, the staff of a hospital emergency room talking to Domino’s Pizza about taking relevant customer information quickly over the telephone. Outside pressures and new paradigms are going to strongly encourage colleges and universities to move away from talking solely to “insiders”.
As we have listened to our audience from our workshops, partnerships, business and industry, healthcare and government and on our website, we have heard consistently repeated requests for information and resources and have integrated these into our concept of best practices. These requests include:
Best practices offered a concept that we can use to introduce sustainability content combined with process into the mainstream of any college or university. Based on Second Nature’s experience with its stakeholders we can already highlight some significant lessons from the incorporation of best practice into our regional workshop concept:
As sustainability innovation is incorporated into the rapidly changing world of higher education, there will be shifts over time about what constitutes a best practice. We fully expect that our framework will need to be expanded and refined to keep pace with this evolution. The content and the focus of the workshops will also shift as our collective understanding changes.
The New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability (NJHEPS), and Emory University.
I have chosen to highlight these two examples for the following reasons:
Details on each will be provided in my presentation.
“Universities are our greatest and most enduring social insititutions.”  (p.1) They may also be a prototype of the postindustrial organization, most similar to the e-commerce organizations that have sprouted up in the past few years. This is because they live on and for creation, dissemination, and application of knowledge. The university or college…. “at its best offers an interesting and sensitive balance between individuality and collective interdependence; between felt commitment and formal authority; between creativity and production; and even between the frivolous and the serious, the sacred and profane. Other organizations if they are to advance the human condition, may in the future have to become more like universities than the other way around”  (p. 5).
But universities have to take much greater responsibility for the state of our planet. The earth’s biosphere is in an increasing state of disequilibrium that is threatening the viability of natural systems. This disequilibrium is either directly or indirectly a function of human agency, and largely a function of a deeply flawed relationship between humans and their natural habitat. We continue to educate generation after generation of students as if there were no environmental crisis. Environmental ignorance is increasing as the population expands, and gaining environmental understanding must be an essential goal of every student’s education. Therefore, using the goal of sustainability as the organizing principle of education is a crucial step in addressing ecological imbalance and repairing the human relationship with the natural world and the relationship that humans have with each other.
This outline describes the development of a residency program for visual artists, film-makers, writers, and scientists, as well as a facility to house the program. The mission of the center will be to promote collaboration among highly creative people to make art that celebrates and elevates our perception of the natural world and our sense of place in it. The program will select and invite resident fellows to use the facility and its location in coastal southeastern Massachusetts for this specific purpose. Artists and scientists who focus their work on nature and the environment will break new intellectual ground by forging collaborative partnerships. This section summarizes the overall concept, followed by a rationale, a brief description of the program, and an outline of the financial model.
The center will accommodate from ten to fourteen resident fellows for nine months on a rotational basis each year. Fellows will be selected through review of applications by a small revolving-member selection committee comprising past fellows, a representative of the local arts community, and members of the center’s board of directors. Applicants will be asked to outline a specific project or subject focus for their residency period. They will also be encouraged to participate in small teams on projects.
In addition, the center will be open to the public for short courses as a summer school for ten weeks during July – September each year. Drawing on their multi-disciplinary expertise, resident fellows will teach week long seminars as part of their responsibility to the center. Concurrent seminars will include 10 – 15 participants.
The facility will operate year-round to provide a gathering place focused on art for the community and local residents. There will be a year-round visual arts program for children and young people that will be expanded during the summer into camp format. During the summer months the facility will open a café restaurant for the use of Summer school participants and open to the general public. It will contain a 4,000 square foot gallery space for showing work and projects completed by fellows. The space will be available for showing film and for rental to local residents and others for functions and purposes consistent with the mission of the center.
To accommodate the program, I propose to build a new campus style facility of approximately 16,000 square feet, designed to the highest current standards of green or sustainable design – at least a Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. The mini-campus design will situate separate buildings on a three to four acre site (Attachment 1). If possible, the facility will be connected to an organization that complements the core mission of the program, and preferably built on a site close to an area of natural beauty such as conservation land, a preserve or farm. Almost any coastal location in southeastern Massachusetts ensures close proximity to a wide range of beautiful and inspirational places. I envisage the location and design ethos of the center to embody and reflect the ideals that will be inherent in the creative output of the resident fellows.
On this threshold of the 21st century we find ourselves on an increasingly destructive trajectory with our natural environment. The visual and print media broadcast enormous cascades of images and information that amplify this tragic fact. Environmental catastrophes such as the Asian tsunami in 2004, hurricanes Katrina and Rita swamping New Orleans, or the massive earthquakes in Pakistan and Northern India make compelling news clips. Global climate disruption and a host of other human assaults on the environment are also gaining more attention. Whether the cause be natural or anthropogenic, images of natural disasters tend to converge with positive environmental images as the primary representation of nature in our collective minds. As a result, most of us either feel powerless, or we retreat into denial and continue with our lives.
I believe there is a deep hunger among all people for imagery and ideas to contradict this media onslaught. In our fast paced and “now” centered culture we tend to minimize or overlook the extent to which artists and art have changed the course of human history. There is a real and urgent need for art that reminds us of our sense of place in nature. All media documenting nature and environment suffer from a shortage of icons and images that engage and uplift people at all levels.
This center will be in the vanguard of organizations taking on this challenge nationally or even internationally. Globally, there are very few organizations that are addressing the nexus between art and science generally (Attachment 2) and only a handful that have any focus on art and environment. At this new center, the synergy between artists’ and scientists’ visions will generate fresh positive ideas in language and media accessible to everyone on a more personal and immediate level.
I believe that a process of reconnection can have profound and far-reaching influence. It will greatly reduce our collective resistance to change and, hopefully, lead us to alter our individual and collective behavior. This in turn will lead to changing our policies and our laws to fundamentally embody regenerative treatment of our environment.
Ten Month Residents
The residency will be open to all scholars, artists and scientists at any stage in their careers. Year long residents will be encouraged to apply as a team to develop clearly designed multi-disciplinary projects. However, each member of the team will also qualify for individual residency awards. Applicants will also be fully encouraged to apply individually but will be encouraged to seek some collaboration, as appropriate, once at the center. Using a multi-disciplinary approach for team projects will enable the center to seek goal-oriented funding in addition to support for individual projects. Where necessary, and when the center is more established, I will also commit the center’s development resources to assist in fundraising for projects.
Residents will be provided room, board, and a stipend, but not travel costs. They will also be provided with workspace or studio space appropriate to discipline. Each resident will be expected to teach four weeks of summer school at some point in their residence period. They will be encouraged to show work-in-progress or completed work in the gallery space.
Scientists will have different options. They may visit for day-long retreats, short term stays (2 – 3 weeks) or apply for ten month sabbaticals. However, only ten month resident scientists will be eligible for resident benefits described above. Scientists will be encouraged to use the sabbaticals for writing in addition to their participation in center collaborations.
Summer school courses will run for ten weeks from July until mid-September and will be open to all members of the public over the age of 16. Attendees will be able to register for any number of one week seminars and short courses during this period. Courses will be taught by ten month residents, scientists and additional faculty as needed. Classes will run for three hours each morning and each afternoon with tutorial times arranged as needed for each course. There will be a concurrent summer arts camp for children in K-12. The restaurant café will offer breakfast and lunch service for participants, visitors and the public during the summer school period.
My estimate for initial building costs for the center will be approximately $300 per square foot for new construction with maximal energy efficiency and environmentally benign construction materials. Thus, a preliminary estimate for construction of a facility of approximately 16,000 square feet is $4.8 million. I am exploring the feasibility of a partnership with an existing organization that has a complementary mission and sufficient site space to permit us to construct the facility on their premises.
To fulfill its mission and deliver its program, this facility will require five to seven full time staff to operate and maintain it. Initial estimates for salary costs are approximately $400,000-$500,000 and additional annual administration and maintenance costs approximately $250,000. Therefore, the overall annual budget for the center will be about $650,000 in the first year, with a projected increase of roughly ten percent per year. Income will be derived from the summer school program, lease of the restaurant café, and from rentals of the gallery space for other functions. Necessary additional funds to cover this budget will be generated through standard development tools (individual giving, memberships, fundraising etc.).
Based on similar programs in other locations in New England, it will cost approximately $20,000 per month to support twelve resident fellows for 10 months with studio space, full board, accommodation and a small stipend (Annual Total $240,000). My goal will be to derive sufficient earned income from the summer school participants to fully support the residency program. In order to reach this minimum total ($240,000), the center will need to reach a three year goal of approximately 500 summer school attendees each paying $500 per week, and some attendees enrolling for more than one week. This would require a minimum average weekly enrollment of 40 summer school attendees for twelve summer weeks.
Please send any comments and ideas to: John Glyphis (email: email@example.com)
Charles Rose: The Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, FL
|Organization||Location and URL||Description|
|Art Science Research Lab (ASRL)||New York, NY, USAwww.artscienceresearchlab.org||Focuses on the reduction in critical thinking in the mass communication and journalism about science.|
|Leonardo/International Society of Art Science and Technology (ISAST)||San Francisco, CA, USAmitpress2.mit.edu/e-journals/Leonardo/isast||Promotes and documents work at the intersection of the arts, sciences, and technology. Periodical publication of articles covering aesthetics and computing, art and genetics, law and cyberspace, art and technology, new media poetry as well as the visual arts, creativity and the natural sciences.|
|The Arts Catalyst||London, UKwww.artscatalyst.org||Its mission is to extend, promote and activate a fundamental shift in the dialogue between art and science and its perception by the public. Some environmental work on global systems and remote research|
|Bridges||Alberta, Canadawww.annenberg.edu/BRIDGES/||An international consortium of academic institutions for the study and exploration of interdisciplinary collaborative processes, mostly focused on media technology.|
|Integrated Catchment Management for the Motueka River -Landcare Research||Motueka River, New Zealandicm.landcareresearch.co.nz||Provides multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder research to provide information and knowledge to improve the management of land, freshwater, and near-coastal environments in catchments with multiple potentially conflicting land uses.|
|Projects for a New Millennium||Stony Creek, CT, USAwww.projects2k.org||Established to create collaborative events fusing art and science as a means of discovery and appreciation of the natural world. Seeks to celebrate differences while recognizing the importance of common goals of peace and freedom in an environmentally sound world.|
|SciCult||London, UKwww.scicult.com||A specialist science-related contemporary art gallery, and science & culture agency. It was established primarily as a network for arts practioners who either use or are inspired by science and technology.|
|Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences||Rabun Gap, GA, USAwww.hambidge.org||Mission is to provide artists with time and space in which to pursue their work; to enable artists to enhance their own communities’ arts environment through works created at the Center; and to protect and sustain its own pristine natural environment, land and endangered species.|
|Bell Museum of Natural History||Minneapolis, MN, USAwww.bellmuseum.org||Conducts art-environment learning programs for k-12.|
|Southern California Arts Painting for the Environment (SCAPE)||Santa Barbara, CA, USAwww.s-c-a-p-e.org||Raise money to protect open spaces, to increase public awareness of environmental and conservation issues, and to promote a network for outdoor painters.|
Each item listed below corresponds to a line item listed in the five year projected budget (provided separately) for the center.
Negotiating Bolder International Environmental Treaties: using parallel informal meetings to improve outcomes.
In many parts of the planet the natural environment is showing signs of stress. Awareness of the importance of this brought many nations together at Stockholm in 1972 and again at Rio twenty years later. During these two decades the global community passed more than a dozen international treaties, some of which are more effective than others. These treaties and a range of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations represent emerging new forms of governance that are challenging and transforming established notions of sovereignty . Since the second World War there has been a rapid rise in the number of these institutions (Table 1). Much of the formal interaction of all these organizations is conducted through the process of multilateral negotiations. Table 1. Number of International organizations in three different years during this century (after Zacher 1992
Most diplomatic negotiation up until the beginning of this century was conducted in secret, usually among a small group (except for some very unusual events such as the Congress of Vienna in 1815), and at a slow pace with no deadlines.A major shift occurred with the treaty of Versailles (1919-1921) and the advent of public, large group negotiations working towards a deadline . The number of conferences and congresses soared from about 100 per year in 1900 to more than 3000 per year in the 1970s. Bilateral treaties have doubled from approximately 6 500 in the post second-world war decade to about 14 000 in 1975. These have dealt with a wide array of security, trade, cultural and environmental issues. Most treaty-making has been conducted under increasing public scrutiny because of the domestic ramifications of such agreements. The emerging system of international negotiation has seen the transformation of negotiation from government-to-government through appointed negotiators into a technically and politically complex exercise involving citizens groups, non-governmental organizations, and technical and scientific specialists.As a part of the evolving nature of sovereignty and governance, this process of change in negotiation is part of the general change in global power patterns (for example, the demise of the Soviet Union), the growth of alliances (for example, the Europe Union) and interests (for example, the G77 countries) and the recognition of environmental problems (for example, ozone depletion). This has given rise to the need for better management of the negotiations and especially a deeper understanding of the multilateral negotiating process. In this paper I explore how and why an informal meeting structure should be formally integrated with larger formal negotiation processes, with special application to environmental agreements. Similar workshop models have been employed in conflict resolution and second-track diplomacy, and in a handful of instances in environmental negotiations. Environmental treaties are different from other types of international instruments. The complex technical nature of the underlying science can prove to be a hindrance, lead to overgeneralizations to achieve consensus, and thus reduce the effectiveness of the agreement. This stems in part from the difficulty that a given country might experience in grasping the full ramifications and implications of a given agreement and, in turn, leads to concerns about the existence of invisible asymmetries within in the treaty that could unfairly burden certain parties. Particular components of the agreement have to be carefully crafted to make them workable and acceptable to all parties in a given negotiation, thus helping to bolster its subsequent authority.
International environmental agreements are generally like other types of multilateral agreements. They contain the various features of bilateral processes such as bargaining, information exchange, decision making rules and the articulation of interests and options. But these all require augmentation for multilateral processes, with a deeper understanding of coalition formation, differentiation of interests and roles, and different meeting structures. The process and constraints of a given negotiation also alter the process internally as a negotiation unfolds and this introduces another set of challenges . Environmental negotiations also have particular characteristics which set them apart from other multilateral treaties. In particular they have types of political and scientific uncertainties with more ambiguous alternatives, and there are sequencing issues and characteristic coalitional behavior. Lang (1991) identifies four characteristics which set environmental negotiations apart from other types of agreements. First, regional or interest groups exist and these can unite delegations geographically or politically. With increasing involvement as the negotiations unfold, they tend to coalesce around particular political positions in the larger conference context. Groups such as this can be useful because they can serve in the basic conference role functions.They can also serve as working groups or sub-groups trying to settle issues by informal consultation, thus serving as negotiating units. An advantage of informal consultation is that, since positions taken are not subject to public scrutiny, parties might change position without losing face. A major disadvantage, however, is that the evolution of a negotiation may be recorded later by a particular participant viewing it through subjective recollection. Nevertheless, according to Lang, the most substantive bargaining has been carried out in this informal context. Second, environmental negotiations have tended to be fairly transparent. Such negotiations have experienced sophisticated lobbying by NGOs: two notable examples are the negotiations of the Montreal accords and the work of Greenpeace in the Basel Convention on movements of hazardous waste. The media generally have served the environmental lobbies well and have served to both educate and to heighten the level of public concern. Third, in a discussion of material factors, Lang suggests that scientific evidence of actual or potential environmental damage has been crucial. This has usually led to examination of the credibility of such evidence during the bargaining process. Groups of scientific experts have substantially assisted conferences drafting legal instruments. Scientific evidence also has competed with considerations of economic feasibility. Finally, according to Lang, environmental treaties have generally not been closed on conclusion and contain re-opening clauses either for new controls or the incorporation of new scientific evidence.Frequently, they have been completed in steps, beginning with a framework followed with increasingly stringent requirements subsequently. I would add to this list a fifth characteristic. Environmental treaties aim to solve a common environmental problem on a regional or global scale and have the appearance of being in essence a problem solving exercise. (Trade or security issues appear more adversarial and are accepted as such in the media.) However, environmental issues often have far reaching implications affecting each country’s domestic economy and politics: this contradiction instills a specific tension into the process which requires some creative management both between domestic constituencies and their conference representatives on the one hand and among parties at the conference on the other . Ignoring this tension can easily result in sub-optimal agreements.
Since the 1972 Stockholm Conference, public concern with environmental degradation and recognition of the link between poverty, population growth and the environment have propelled nations to take some action. Since then, fifteen international environmental treaties have been negotiated, signed and implemented . On balance, these treaties, in spite of the positive aspects of having brought a large group of countries to negotiate and agree, contain a variety of weaknesses. Two of the more successful negotiations include air pollution control (LRTAP) under the auspices of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) in 1983 and the Montreal Agreement and amendments to protect the ozone layer in 1988 . Two relative successes, however, does not offer an optimistic promise of more successful future agreements. Susskind  identified four major weaknesses of global environmental negotiation. All were characterized by: 1) no guarantees of fair treatment for all countries and interests through the current voting and representation system; 2) unbalanced scientific and political considerations; 3) minimal linkage among environmental and other policy issues, and 4) ineffective monitoring and enforcement of agreements. Furthermore, these specific weaknesses are connected to three underlying global obstacles which sabotage resolution:escalating North-South tensions; sovereignty vs. multilateral tensions; and, free-rider problems, that is, an absence of incentives to bring parties to the table. Susskind  suggests that the substance of both sets of issues could be pragmatically addressed by, first, making changes to the international legal structure to permit legal recognition of non-governmental organizations as legal parties and the establishement of international environmental rights; second, by changing the voting and representation system to reduce the dominance of a few powerful nations; third, by curtailing the misuse of scientific and technical information to advance short-term national interests; fourth, by managing linkage issues with dexterity during treaty-negotiation; and fifth, by dealing more effectively with issues of compliance in the face of sovereignty. This last point is particularly important. Traditionally, nation-states have had a monopoly as actors in negotiations.This has extended, as mentioned in the introduction, to international organizations, transboundary and multinational corporations and industrial units, political parties and movements, and social and religious communities. The actual bargaining, however, is still based on issues of sovereignty:an agreement usually means the partial suspension of each sides’ sovereignty in order to follow points of the agreed-upon contract. This tension between the traditional notion of sovereignty and a contemporary attempt to problem-solve and cooperate is a central underlying reason for stalemates at worst and ineffective treaties at best. Susskinds recommendations are far-reaching and substantively detailed, addressing environmental policy, negotiation process and negotiation structure. My proposal to use informal, problem-solving style meetings as a part of the structure and process of an environmental negotiation is fully consonant with these ideas and recommendations.
Informal meetings are a wholly practical device to formalize a structure that has been sporadically used in a number of different negotiating arenas. As a device, it is intended to be focussed yet adaptable in function. It could be used in prenegotiation phases for the purposes of clarifying initial positions and interests or for exploring and developing options (bundles and linkages).It could be also used directly for negotiation when coalitions have developed and coalitional interests need to be explored, or, when particular issues in the negotiation are proving intractable, informal meetings could provide a format to problem-solve outside of the main course of the negotiation meeting. In searching for a practical and theoretically useful model for informal meetings, I found four types which appear to have some facet of value for environmental negotiations. As would be expected, aspects of each model are also clearly inapplicable.These are: a recent policy dialogue on Trade and Environment; scientific workshops used very sporadically in environmental treaties; problem-solving workshops in ethnic conflict; and, second-track diplomacy. The argument for using conflict resolution models in informal meetings is partially addressed by Zartman . He observes that there are at least two different ways of viewing environmental conflict: “one considers the problem as the adversary and seeks to negotiate with it” (p. 114), and the other recognizes that parties benefit asymmetrically from its solution – “problem solving then is not merely discovery and education, but dealing with motivated, interested conflict inherent in both the problem and its solution.” (p. 114). He sees most envirornmental negotiation as being more like the second case and becoming increasingly so in the future. Most effective agreements, in his opinion, have had an incremental quality. Agreements shift from initial agreements with more tentative language to more assertive and clear goals and what Zartman calls a “fall forward” capacity whereby, with new information, more stringent requirements are agreed to in subsequent Conferences of parties. This incremental stringency pushes parties into more polarized stances.Zartman’s analysis is only partially credible because he asserts in his conclusions that “the environmental process has, in general, been remarkably smooth and productive..” (p. 121). As I outlined above, most international environmental treaties fall short of their intended goals. Even though one could argue that the informal meetings should be considered apart from the formal structure in order for them fulfil their function, I think that Zartman is correct in suggesting that participants would be unlikely to put the adversarial aspects of the negotiation aside. I use scientific/technical workshops as a model because they were essentially value-creating and educational in the context of the negotiations where they were discussed. The policy dialogue serves as model more for a structure for informal meetings, although it also provides some guidance for process. Before describing these models I outline a brief history of negotiation theory to provide some theoretical integration for the use of informal meetings in an existing historical framework.
Informal meetings are an extension of the development of negotiation structures and processes. The theory of integrative bargaining can be attributed to Mary Parker Follett in a cited 1942 paper. Since then a substantial formal body of theory has been developed and explored. Schelling (1960) analysed negotiation theoretically based on “Prisoners Dilemma”: a typical negotiation starts with a minimum of cooperation initially and progresses to a maximum at the conclusion.The gist was to overcome the conflict and time was not critical. Raiffa (1982) title=””> suggested that distributive approaches are necessary for economically “efficient” outcomes – both parties have not strategically misrepresented their value trade-offs and thus not missed “costless” gains. A clear competitive strategy is more likely to win in the long run over meaness and trickery. More recently Axelrod (1984) examined joint problem solving and the use of a “tit-for-tat” strategy. Arbatov (1988) in Kremenyuk  analysed the negative aspects of the traditional approach which he divided into three specific components: 1) protracted bargaining; 2) the complexity of domestic negotiation and its influence on higher rank negotiation; and 3) bureaucratization of the talks.Successful negotiations followed a generally hierarchical structure where at the highest level differences in principles were resolved, followed by a legal level, then an expert level and finally, at the lowest, an implementation level. In examining the decoding of the negotiation process, Dupont and Faure (1992) identify four general avenues. Attention has been paid to 1) series of sequences with rules governing sequence of concessions; 2) power processes; 3) persuasive debate; and 4) use of game-theoretic matrices (either improved standard ones i.e. prisoners dilemma, or concepts of critical risk). They discuss global approaches using 1) models such as the three-stage one where the emphasis is on negotiation not being a finite process, and 2) the practitioner theories which balance interpersonal skills and analysis, the latter to aid in uncovering inefficiencies. Dupont and Faure place the origin of practitioner theories and principled negotiation (eg. Fisher19), and management of the tension of value creation and value claiming (eg. Lax & Sebenius 1986) in context. They observe and analyse the process, including types of moves and communication variables. They also discuss referential variables such as face-saving and face-maintenance. They note that the process is influenced by personal traits such as competitiveness and cooperation. In an examination of information (private, public and secret) they suggest that the more negotiators know about each others’ gains and losses, the higher they raise joint gains: this has been experimentally shown. More recently, Zartman points out that until recently the development of negotiation theory has mostly concentrated on two-party processes, in part because of the complexity of the processes involved. In trying to analyse and understand multilateral processes, it has not been possible simply to extrapolate from bilateral processes: a new range of concepts is necessary. Informal meetings are intended to be a value-creation process allowing parties to explore linkages and separate issues, to mutually educate each other and to develop options for later bargaining.
This model provides some specifics about procedure but most strongly serves as beacon to the potential value for parallel informal meetings. The first meeting of the Dialogue sought to bring representatives of two usually adversarial groups together to discuss the general topic of taxes and charges for environmental protection purposes. Participants included GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) officials, ambassadors to GATT/WTO (World Trade Organization), leaders of environmental groups and senior representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations. All participants attended in their personal capacities and the report contains no attribution of statements or comments. In two days of sessions, a wide assortment of topics were discussed. These included an opening overview session and general discussion of environmental taxes. GATT generally focusses on taxes on products rather than processes, while environmentalists feel that in many cases the most effective point at which environmental taxes should be imposed is on the production process itself.The discussion covered three issues: 1) the effect of environmental taxes on competitiveness; 2) discriminatory or protectionist measures disguised as environmental charges; and 3) feasibility of application. Each of these was then discussed in more detail in subsequent sessions. In Session II the specific problem of carbon taxes addressed the general question of competitiveness, US Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standards were discussed as a question of disguised protectionism in Session III. Session IV dealt with recycling and clean-up taxes and Session V with transparency.In Session V attention was focussed on environmental NGO participation in the decision-making process of the WTO, in light of the intention by other international organizations to operate more openly. These meetings were very efficient with a focussed discussion covering a large amount of material in a short time.Participants were ‘intellectually homogenous’ in the sense that they mutually recognized each others’ expertise and that they were all well-prepared. However, these two features are much less likely to be found in an informal meeting during prenegotiations for an environmental treaty.Participants would likely be variably well-prepared, possibly coming from culturally different backgrounds with different styles of interaction and communication. Participants at the Talloires dialogue did not, by the nature of that meeting, have to answer in the end to a home constituency or a government. In a few ways it even resembled a problem-solving workshop for conflict resolution.There were two sides with opposing points of view and a free-flowing discussion was encouraged with unobtrusive facilitation.
Three examples have been mentioned at any length in the literature. In three cases, models were introduced to the discussion that substantially changed the course of the subsequent negotiations.These were the MIT model used in the Law of the Sea discussions, the IMAGE model used in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change meeting, and the RAINS model used in the acid rain negotiations in Europe. The MIT model was developed in 1976 to explore the technology and costs of a hypothetical ocean mining operation. It was exhaustively reviewed and then brought to the attention of the Chairman of the Law of the Sea conference, Tommy Koh, by the head of the US delegation.The model proved to be a useful and neutral asset to the discussions on the financial component of the negotiations. It assisted the financial experts to improve the provisions in the informal negotiating text of the conference, . On presentation at a workshop during the conference, it was well-received and appeared to improve the tone of communications during subsequent meetings on finance. The RAINS model was developed and used during the negotiations on acid rain in Europe between 1983 – 1991 style=’mso-footnote-id:ftn28′ href=”#_ftn28″ name=”_ftnref28″ title=””>class=MsoFootnoteReference>  style=’font-size:12.0pt’>. It was used as a tool to display a full picture of the problem that negotiators were dealing with. It could analyse various scenarios including options for energy use, abatement strategies and mitigation policies. It had the credibility of broad scientific review and input from participants as to the kinds of questions that they wanted to be able to answer.From all descriptions of the introduction of these models, it appears that not only did the model aid participants in grasping very challenging concepts but it also introduced a more problem-focused approach. Clearly, the intention of using these models was to try substantively to develop options in the negotiations. Such a value creating exercise moved the process in a positive direction towards an agreement that provided gains for all parties and a clearer understanding of the problem, both of which helped forge an effective agreement.
Problem solving workshops have been used with mixed success in ethnic conflict resolution in the Middle East and in other conflict areas such as Cyprus and South-East Asia, Africa and Latin America<. The theoretical basis for these is strongly social-psychological and much attention is put on the participants to help them develop self-awareness and self-analysis. A supportive environment is created to facilitate this process. There are stringent ground rules about confidentiality and also confidentiality of participation. The reason for the latter is that participants in some conflicts would be contravening treason laws in their own countries if they engaged in contact with adversaries. Psychological case-work elements are used by consultants in this process. This means that the consultant’s role as a third party is supportive (offering sympathetic understanding), non-directive (initiative solely from the client), non-condemnatory (no value judgment reactions from the consultant), self-determinate (the search for solutions is largely in the hands of the client) and analytical(clarifying the clients perception of his/her actual situation in relation to outer reality). Participants in these workshops are usually drawn from a circle of officials not directly connected to those responsible for ‘public’ managment of the conflict, but rather who may be close to such high profile figures.The workshop permits a dialogue to occur within the conditions listed above. Each side may speak frankly and openly and be sure to be heard by the other participants. New points of view can emerge and exchanges of ideas are possible. The major difference between this situation and environmental negotiation is that the adversity dimension of ethnic conflict is greatly magnified. Participation in problem-solving workshops has usually only occurred because a “hurting stalemate” has been achieved. A second difference is that such a dialogue is usually only constructed around two and very occasionally three adversaries.Most environmental negotiations have many more participants than this. Essentially useful segments from problem-solving workshops are the definition of the role and attitude of the consultants/facilitators and the structure of the dialogue.Some of these elements can also be seen in the fourth type of model, track two diplomacy, that I propose as having some useful elements. This particular case recounts some of the informal contacts between the US and the Soviet Union beginning in 1960.
Hickman and Garrison ascribe the invention of the term “track two” or citizen diplomacy to Joseph Montville, a career diplomat in the US State Department. Track two refers to constructive, unofficial, informal interactions between individual and groups on different sides of ethnic and sectarian conflicts.As an adjunct to official, traditional, nation-to-nation diplomacy, it seeks to reduce psychological barriers between contending parties. At the urging of President Eisenhower, Norman Cousins, then editor of Saturday Review, arranged a meeting between private American and Soviet citizens. The first meeting occurred in October 1960 at Dartmouth College after 18 months of preliminary negotiations. It lasted one week without any substantive breakthroughs.But the development of personal relationships formed a foundation through which the most complex and emotionally charged issues could later be constructively addressed.Full plenary sessions have met approximately once every two years since 1960. Since 1981 smaller working groups or task forces on regional conflicts have met every 6 – 8 months. Plenary meetings involved 30-40 Soviets and Americans conversing around a single table.More often both sides used the occasion to try to “sell” particular viewpoints in speeches full of propaganda. These meetings were almost always superficial. Valuable meetings occurred when there was a well-defined subject of interest to most participants and this led to substantive contributions.In these, each side exchanged views about perceived trends and policies in the other’s country.This encouraged thoughtful, analytic presentations and discussion on subjects such as arms control and the Middle East situation. Plenary sessions were also useful for task forces to report the results of deliberations.The task forces met both in the interim of and during plenary sessions, and these reports helped provide a continuity to the overall project. Task forces consisted of 4-5 participants on each side. These met regularly with a more stable core of participants and greater frequency of interaction – every 6-8 months – which gave a greater sense of continuity.This led to more thorough preparation, more effective follow-up and a longer term perspective.From this, in turn, grew a more frequent elaboration of ideas and insights useful in the policy arena. Preparation on the US side included elaborating the network of informed people involved in the dialogue, developing new ideas and approaches for discussion, ensuring that participants had a clear idea of official policy, and choosing a strategy for discussions.Some task forces found it useful to conduct informal seminars of 15-20 individuals both before and after task force meetings. The preliminary seminar included some part of the above list and in follow-up meetings insights and ideas were shared and discussed. Occasionally, informal papers were prepared but less so as meetings became more frequent, focussed and substantial. Both sides conferred before and after with senior government officials. The primary purpose of this was to reduce the likelihood of incorrect signals but also to ensure that official views were fairly presented.
Informally, there was open recognition of a need to air concerns and grievances.For example the first hour or two of meeting in the arms control task force was devoted to “mutual recriminations” – each side got an opportunity to deliver complaints about the other. If recriminations re-emerged in later parts of discussions, these were stopped by reminders that the time for these had passed earlier.On contentious issues, both sides were able to avoid the almost irresistible urge to engage in polemics and accusations. Real differences of viewpoint were not glossed over: “fawning words of concession and pretended agreement do not win respect or confidence”. Bolling also felt that it was important to state differences with dispassion and to listen attentively to even the most outrageous contrary views. He advocated listening rather than talking and also observed that the most crucial part of a discussion was likely to occur after everybody had spoken once. The value of these conferences was shown on a number of occasions. In October 1962, as the meeting was about to begin, the Cuban missile crisis engulfed the world’s attention. After establishing from their respective governments that the conference should continue, the conferees then played a role in a communication channel via the Vatican. Both groups of participants regarded this occasion as highlighting the absolute necessity of a private forum, even though they recognized that their effect on the overall process was probably quite marginal. In 1969-1970 the Dartmouth Conferences brought together a number of Soviet and US enviromental scientists. These discussions helped prepare for the formal agreements on scientific cooperation signed at the May 1972 Summit meeting. During this same period Soviet-US economic relations were examined and this came to be formalised in the US-Soviet trade agreement in October 1972. The overall conduct of the meetings was not based on universal formulas or guidelines for reaching particular goals. Private diplomacy cannot substitute for official diplomacy – private citizens are in any case forbidden by law to conduct negotiations independently. Stewart suggests that “private diplomacy seems best suited to developing conditions for problem solving”.This then set the stage for intergovernmental movement towards resolution. The goal of this private diplomacy was not to influence directly policies of either country. Rather, the desire was to indirectly shape the images of the possible that policy makers of each country brought to solving problems.The Soviets were concerned about excessive openness and didn’t generally stray too far from official positions and therefore repeated ‘safe views’. In the Soviet Union at that time, formal institutions shaped the influence of internal policy but personal ties were significant and important. Private activities on both sides ranged from establishing contacts with appropriate private persons, to helping develop a clear image of the interests and perceptions of specific issues and even to creating new concepts on questions of mutual interest. Attempting a clear definition of the problem required extended time for formulation and re-articulation. The major contributions of this private dialogue, according to Harold Saunders were:
The Dartmouth Conferences addressed a particular type of tension in a unique context in international relations and did so successfully. Part of its success seems to have been that it evolved to meet the special needs of the situation. The use of a two-tier system for group size and the set of ground rules seem both to have been significant to effectiveness.
These conceptual remarks serve as an introduction to a practical description of parallel informal meetings. Parallel informal meetings are a structured extension of informal contact which have been widely used in all types of negotiations and diplomacy. Problem-solving workshops, the Dartmouth Conferences and the Talloires Dialogue illustrate that a structured meeting can engage intelligent exploration by participants to solve the most contentious types of disagreements. The Dartmouth conferences provide a good basic logistical outline for the structure of such meetings, including the number of participants, the order of discussion and the need to encourage contribution from all participants. Problem-solving workshops provide some guidance as to attitude on the part of facilitators of such meetings. Scientific/technical workshops indicate that education and complex problem-orientation can be successfully accomplished within the framework of a negotiation process. However, none of these models provide a good general foundation for informal meetings in the context of a complex multiparty environmental negotiation.Three of these four models dealt with moderate to strongly adversarial bilateral scenarios. Two of the four were in the context of environmental issues but were more narrowly focussed on issues of interpretation (Talloires) and technical/scientific interpretations. Three out of the four were not directly connected to a formal negotiating process, such as a treaty discussion or a conference of parties. I propose a structure below that draws on the most useful attributes of these four models.
This would be a carefully structured short conference of 25 – 50 participants for the purposeful exploration of controversial issues of substance regarding treaty development, ratification or amendment. It would not last more than three days. The decision to have a parallel informal meeting would rest with the leadership of a new treaty under negotiation or with the secretariat of an existing treaty or agreement as a part of a Conference of Parties. During the process of a formal negotiation, parties concerned with contentious central or corollary issues (these could be defined in the formal process) would be invited to participate in a parallel but structured, confidential ‘conversation’. The intention would be to foster exploration of the agreed upon issue(s) with the help of facilitators. The particular purpose would be to expand issues, discuss alternatives and possibilities, and generate new options for consideration in the formal negotiation process. These would not be transferred as a product of the informal meeting. In fact the entire proceedings would be confidential and any statements would be without attribution. Success in engaging in a meaningful exchange of views in conflict resolution workshops has hinged on total confidentiality, extending in many instances to knowledge of participation in such a workshop. There would preferably be no specific restrictions on participation. The participants would not be limited in number but would be expected to be fully conversant with the topic for exploration. The meetings and the course of the discussion would be confidential, although any agreed-upon statements or report might later be released to the formal proceedings, without attribution as was done, for example, with the report of the Talloires meeting. This type of meeting would be intended to marshall the largest variety of stakeholders, viewpoints and representation possible for the purposes of problem solving. All participants would be required to attend in a personal capacity since this would not be a formal, legally-binding negotiation. All participants would be there by the invitation of the organizers but agreed upon by all parties. Meeting organizers would have distilled a particular controversy down to two or three but no more than five constituent items or questions. The questions or topics would be canvassed both among treaty participants and among other experts by a planning team appointed by the secretariat and narrowed down. Reading material would be selected, prepared and available ahead of time. Respondents would be appointed for the meeting to give a five minute overview of particular positions with respect to a given question. General conversation would follow moderated by two or three experienced mediators/negotiators. Every participant would have, if possible, the opportunity to speak at least once before any one spoke a second time – any individual can cede the chance to speak if they choose.The initial joint session would last approximately 2 1/2 – 3 to three hours (a morning). The following session would be a smaller-group caucus where participants could further discuss specific issues and topics based on the prior joint session.This session could be two hours long (for example, the early part of an afternoon) with one of the mediators present but functioning in a more limited role of time keeper and observer.Again, each participant would have the opportunity to speak once before any one else spoke twice.Each caucus group would have the option of preparing a report to present to the full meeting. This caucus session would be followed by a second joint meeting. Each caucus would have the opportunity to use an inital five minute slot to report to the whole meeting. This session would once again last 2 1/2 – 3 hours and would conclude a day’s meeting.Participants could decide whether or not to come to a joint decision or to decide that a conclusion or particular finality had been reached on a question or topic under discussion.This could include a decision to explore specific and clearly identified details at another meeting. The main intention would be to ensure that a free and frank exchange of views took place.In this way a day of deliberation could be devoted to each of the two or three questions. These meetings should not be confused with and are not intended to replace informal contact. This generally occurs in smaller groups, in corridors and during meals and other social activity during a formal conference and contribute to, and are an accepted part of, multi-party conference and negotiation. A parallel formal meeting would provide both formal and informal occasions to develop personal relationships to explicitly support an integrative negotiation outcome.
A set of ten practical recommendations, known as the Salzburg Initiative, has been developed to overcome the increasing mistrust between nations and to achieve some cooperation in the face of escalating global environmental problems40. Susskind suggests that the major thrust of international environmental treaty bargaining should be around the resolution of the political conflict rather than an exercise in solving a set of scientific and technical problems. Descriptions of some negotiations suggest that these may be more closely linked: for example, of the ten recommendations in the Salzburg Initiative, five would directly benefit from the use of parallel formal meetings. In the first recommendation, building decentralized alliances, clusters of countries with common regional and/or technical interests are encouraged to caucus together ahead of time of a formal treaty negotiation. Parallel informal meetings could provide a format for such regional caucuses.The development of regional coalitions could then be amplified to form larger negotiating units, thus removing the need for this at the formal treaty meeting. Issues of real importance would tend to emerge through this process and these could then be scrutinised in depth during the bargaining process. Parallel informal meetings offer substantial support for the third recommendation, namely adopting new approaches to treaty making. Parties enter the negotiating process with widely different levels of knowledge on the topic, with more positional attitudes about their own interests and with uncertainty about the positions and interests of other parties.Parallel informal meetings offer the possibility of taking clearly thought out positions to a negotiation and of greater flexibility during bargaining. Informal meetings would contribute to the development of regional versions of a treaty by giving the opportunity to consider process as well as substantive issues. Recommendation four seeks to expand the roles for NGO interests. Again, parallel informal meetings are a forum where this could occur.NGO’s have played vital roles in all areas of environmental negotiations and treaty implementation but national sovereignty and international law do not permit them to be parties in signing, ratification or adoption. In attempting to develop a better balance between science and politics, recommendation six suggests that the full range of scientific research be presented without attempts at resolution of the scientific disagreements. Policy makers should not look to scientific groups to provide either policy recommendations or definitive interpretations. Informal meetings would allow groups on opposite sides of a given issue to meet along with members of the scientific community to attempt to disentangle science and policy in a detailed and constructive way. Finally, recommendation seven encourages issue linkage. Creative linkage would provide incentives for countries to view international negotiations quite differently. Developing countries especially would be able to have some of their political and economic concerns more explicitly addressed.Informal meetings would provide a forum where linkage bundles could be created and perhaps bargained on a smaller scale. It might also be possible to develop side agreements in these meetings that would encourage the formation of useful coalitions in a larger formal process.
I have attempted to show that parallel informal meetings could provide a means to explore and enlarge the zone of possible agreement (ZOPA) in technically and scientifically complex environmental negotiations. The models I selected suggest that this can be done by focussing attention on particularly controversial issues within a negotiation, with the intention of arriving at a solution by engaging creative thinking of a group. With suitable adaptation, parallel informal meetings might help to refine the process of finding creative and powerful alternatives in other types of negotiations, such as security and trade.