Inderscience Publishers

Social learning and sustainability science: which role can stakeholder participation play?

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Claims for the involvement of societal stakeholders in processes of knowledge generation abound in discussions about sustainability science and new modes of scientific research. Their participation is seen as a means for empowerment and education as well as for increasing the legitimacy of scientific research. In addition, proponents of sustainability science regard stakeholder participation as a way to integrate municipalities, interest groups, industry, and environmentalist groups into both the generation of knowledge and its practical implementation. Meanwhile, there are numerous examples of participatory approaches in scientific knowledge generation that allow for a first review of the experiences gathered so far. The paper gives an account of a number of these experiences and analyses these procedures in the light of criteria derived from the discussions around sustainability science. It is the objective of the paper to deduce lessons for future approaches to participation in sustainability science.

Keywords: knowledge production, participatory procedures, social learning, sustainability science, sustainable development, stakeholders

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