Wednesday, March 25, 2009

From Copenhagen, Day 3

I didn't post last night, because I was too tired. I'm still too tired.

(There is, I have learned, a way of meeting and working peculiar to the Danish. It is characterized by long days and full schedules executed with ruthless efficiency, with breaks that are few and brief.)

I think better of the World Wide Views process than I did when last I posted, though there are still things of which I will be watchful.

After participants in the September 26 meeting have discussed and voted on a series of closed-ended questions, there will be a session in which each group of 6-8 participants will formulate a recommendation for the negotiators at COP-15. There are no prior restrictions on what their recommendation might be.

Then, each participant reads the recommendations and votes for three of them. Votes are tallied, then each recommendation is entered into a computer system in rank order. The computer system will automatically post the results to the World Wide Views website.

It's really a fairly clever execution of a fairly standard approach to citizen participation. I have hopes it will yield some interesting results.

The organizer of the whole event, the director of the Danish Board of Technology, made it very, very clear that we are not in any way to manipulate the participants . . . because doing so will undermine the whole project. He was quite stern about this. It does leave the question, though, of whether we should merely avoid the appearance of manipulation . . .

Yesterday, when we did a role-playing exercise in which we went through an abbreviated version of the World Wide Views process, I found myself in the role of group facilitator.

In principle, this means I had to be neutral, simply keep the discussion going. In practice, however, I found that whenever I intervened in the discussion, I shaped it - sometimes more, sometimes less. There seemed no simple way to determine where the line is between facilitation and manipulation.

If I end up being head facilitator of the Atlanta meeting, I'll have to be very careful of this, especially training and monitoring the group facilitators.

I'm done with the seminar now. Tomorrow, it's the long flight home . . . during which I will be responsible for around 1500lbs of carbon dioxide.

(One of these days, I plan to write a paper for presentation at an environmental ethics conference entitled "We've Got to Stop Meeting Like This.")

1 comment:

Doc Nagel said...

My career goal is to present or publish a paper on feminist interpretations of the later Merleau-Ponty called "Girls Gone Wild." We're simple men with simple dreams.