Wicked learning: Reflecting on Learning to be drier

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Australian Journal of Adult Learning Volume 49, Number 3, November 2009Wicked learning: Reflecting on Learning to be drier 545APSC 2007: 1) underlying the presenting problem of drying. We conclude that solutions to the messy or wicked problem of drying in an interconnected Basin will lie in the social domain. This will include building a wider knowledge and acceptance of the problems and likely future risks across the Basin including all parts of communities. The problem of drying as well as its causes and solutions are multidimensional, and will involve comprehensive learning about all five key characteristics of other wicked policy problems identified in previous research in the environmental arena. The narratives that we have heard identify the extreme difficulty in all four sites of rational and learned responses to being drier as the problem has unfolded. All narratives about being drier that we have heard involve a recognition of a combination of the five characteristics common to wicked problems: multidimensionality, scientific uncertainty, value conflict and uncertainty, mistrust as well as urgency. All narratives identify the importance of social learning: to be productive, to be efficient, to survive, to live with uncertainty, to be sustainable and to share. Combating the extent and effects of drying, causality aside, will require new forms of learning through new community, social and learning spaces, apart from and in addition to new technological and scientific learning.IntroductionOurfirstpaper(Golding&Campbell2009)setouttheparametersandpresuppositionsofourresearchincludingourresearchquestions,methodandliteraturethathelpinformourmethod.OurfirstresearchquestionwasabouthowandwhatadultslearninresponsetochangesinwateravailabilityinthesouthernMurray-DarlingBasin.Oursecondquestionwasabouthowthelearningisexperiencedbythedifferentstakeholders.Ourthirdquestionwasabouthowstakeholdersarelearningtorespond.Theteampapers(Foley&Grace2009;Golding&Angwin2009;Brown&Schulz2009;Smith&Campbell2009)answerthequestionsusinginterviewdatacollectedfromeachoffoursites(alpine,mid-river,lowerriveranddrylandWicked learning: Reflecting on Learning to be drierBarry Golding, Mike Brown, Annette Foley and Erica SmithUniversity of Ballarat Coral Campbell, Christine Schulz, Jennifer Angwin and Lauri GraceDeakin UniversityIn this final, collaborative paper in the Learningtobedrier edition, we reflect on and draw together some of the key threads from the diverse narratives in our four site papers from across the southern Murray-Darling Basin. Our paper title, Wickedlearning, draws on a recent body literature (Rittel & Webber 1973) about messy or wicked problems as characterised by Dietz and Stern (1998). It picks up on our identification of the difficulty and enormity of the learning challenges being faced by communities, associated, at best, with a decade of record dry years (drought) and severely over-committed rivers. At worst, drought is occurring in combination with and as a precursor to recent, progressive drying of the Basin associated with climate change. Our research is suggestive of a need for much more learning across all segments of the adult community about the big picture, including the interrelationships among the full range of causal factors (Australian Public Service Commission, 546 Barry Golding, Mike Brown, Annette Foley, Erica Smith, Coral Campbell, Christine Schulz, Jennifer Angwin and Lauri GraceWicked learning: Reflecting on Learning to be drier 547Reflecting on some limitations (and strengths) of the methodOurabilitytodrawacoherentpictureoflearningaboutdryinginfoursitesinthesouthernMurray-DarlingBasintomid2009islimitedbyanumberoffactors.Theseincludethesmallnumberofsitesselected,thelimitedtimeeachteamhadoneachsiteandthelimitedrangeofintervieweetypesandindividualsselectedoravailableforinterview.Aswithallresearch,theprojectandeachofoursitepapershavebeenshapedbypeoplewithdifferentexperiencesandinterestsinlearning.Theseincludewhatisvaluabletostudy,howtocollectandreportdata,whichliteraturetoconsult,whichtheoreticalperspectivesbestinformandanswertheselectedresearchquestionsandhowbesttocommunicateourfindingsinthisacademicpaperformat.Inthatsense,wedonotclaimtopresentanobjectiveorunbiasedview.Weacknowledgethedifficulty,particularlyindrylandareas,ofseparatingouttheevidenceofgeneralruraldecline,fromtheeffectsofaprolongeddrought,andparticularly,fromtheeffectsofhypothesisedclimatechange.Wehavestudiedlearningasacommunity-based,socialconstructivistphenomenon,inwhichlearningissituated(Lave&Wenger1991),andwhichtakesplacesocio-culturallyincontextasexploredbyVygotsky(seeKozulin2003).Whileweregardthisapproachasappropriateinrurallocationsandcommunitieswhereuniversitiesandcomprehensivetechnicalandfurthereducation(TAFE)provisionareeffectivelymissing,wehavenotheardabouthigherformsofinstitutionalandaccreditededucationandtraining.Theadvantage,however,ofchoosingtohearwhatadiverserangeofpeoplearesayingon siteaboutdrying,isthatwehaveheardawiderangeofperspectivesandnarratives,thattendnottocomethroughsomescientificandtechnicalpapers.respectively).Inthiscollaborativepaperwelookbackonanddrawtogethersomeofthekeythreadsfromthediversenarrativesinthefoursitepapers.Whiletherehasbeenmuchrecentresearchintothesignificantlychangedwaterregimeandclimate-relatedparametersassociatedwithchangeintheBasin,therehasbeenverylittlepreviousresearchofpeopleslearnedresponsestothesechanges.Wewereuncertainattheoutsetastowhichtheoreticalconstruct(s)wouldbemostusefulinorganisingandinterpretingthedata.Wedecided,afterevaluatingalternativetheoreticalperspectives,tostructureourfinalpaperanditstitlearoundtheperceivedwickednessoftheproblemsinvolvedindrying,notinthesenseofevil,butratherasanissuehighlyresistanttoresolution(APSC2007:1).Wenoteveryrecentresearch(Lazarus2009)thatidentifiesglobalclimatechangeasasuper-wickedproblem,becausetimemayberunningout,thereisnocentralauthorityandsomeofthoseseekingtosolvetheproblemarealsocausingit.DryingofthesouthernMurray-DarlingBasin,evenifitwasnotrelatedtoglobalclimatechange,arguablysharessomeofthesamedefiningcharacteristics.Theliteratureonwickednesshasitsoriginsinsocialpolicyplanning,andbearsnorelationtothewaymanyyoungpeoplenowusethetermtomeanreallygood.Wickedproblemsareseen,bycontrast,tobemessy,difficultorimpossibletosolve.Theytypicallyinvolveincomplete,contradictoryandchangingrequirements,thatareoftenhardtorecognize.Werecognizethattheresolutionofadryingissue(orclimatechange)inaninterconnectedBasin,asRittelandWebber(1973)wouldlikelyargue,cannotbetreatedwithtraditionallinear,analyticalapproaches.Inasimilarway,weidentifythenecessaryadultlearningaswicked,inthesenseofbeinghighlyresistanttoresolution,usingthelimitedandfragmented,existinglearningopportunities,organisationsandsystems.548 Barry Golding, Mike Brown, Annette Foley, Erica Smith, Coral Campbell, Christine Schulz, Jennifer Angwin and Lauri GraceWicked learning: Reflecting on Learning to be drier 549Allareashavebeen,astheProductivityCommission(2008:xx)Inquiry into government drought supportputit,experiencinghardshipfromthelatestsevereandprolongeddrought.Whilethisisnotnewtodrylandfarming,irrigationdroughtisunchartedterritory.Eveninthelargelyforested,alpinesite,aseriesofunprecedenteddryyearshadincreasedfirefrequencyandintensityandledtosignificantchangestothealpineenvironment.Thesechangeshadplacedthissiteanditstourism-dependentcommunitiesinunchartedterritoryintermoftheireconomies,aswellasintermsofpublicsafetyandenvironmentalrisks.Whilethecausesofbeingdrier(drought,climatechangeorboth)remaincontestedandhighlypoliticised,therisksofbecomingevendrierthreatentheviabilityandsustainabilityofmostwater-dependentbusinessesaswellastheenvironmentinallfoursites.Notimehasbeenmoreurgent,asasubmission(28,p.1)totheProductivityCommission(2008:187)putit,for:[i]mprovededucation,research,informationprovision,andmostimportantly,publicandprivateextensionservicestounderpinAustraliandroughtresponses.Thehumancapitalonfarmsandintheadvisorysectorneedsurgentinvestmentasitcopeswithatorrentofnewinformationandcomplexissues.Ourresearchshowsthatbeingdrierhassignificantandoftendebilitatingflow-oneffectstoallfamilies,businesses,armsofgovernment,industrysectorsandcommunityorganisationsinallfoursites.Thisextensionshouldarguablybemuchbroaderinitsscopethanagriculture.If,asYoungandMcColl(2008:32)conclude,Nowisthetimetoconfidentlyinformthosewhodependon,andlovetheMurrayDarlingBasinwhattypeoffuturetheyandthesystemcanexpect,allsectorsofthecommunityneedtobesoinformed,andurgently.Aslongasthereiswidespreaddistressindrought-affectedruralcommunities(Hennessy,Fawcett,Kironoetal.2008),thereReflecting on the evidence across the sitesThelocationofourfoursitesinthesouthernMurray-DarlingBasin,includingthreedifferentstatesinsoutheasternAustraliaareidentifiedinFigure1.ThesitesrangedfromanalpinewaterharvestingareaintheheadwatersoftheMurrayRiveraroundMountBeautyinVictoria,toadrylandareawithlittlesurfacewateraroundBirchipintheVictorianMallee.Themid-riversitewasontheMurrumbidgeeRiveraroundHayintheNewSouthWalesRiverinaregion.AfourthsitewasonthelowerMurrayRiveraroundRenmarkintheSouthAustralianRiverlandregion.TheRiverlandandRiverinasitesprovidedperspectivesfromareaslargelydependentonirrigationdrawnfrommajorriversintheBasin.550 Barry Golding, Mike Brown, Annette Foley, Erica Smith, Coral Campbell, Christine Schulz, Jennifer Angwin and Lauri GraceWicked learning: Reflecting on Learning to be drier 551throughwaterbankingupstreamandhadtypicallyadaptedtopreviousfluctuationsinwateravailability.Neverbeforehadirrigatorsbeenforcedtolearnhowtocope,asin2009,withclosetozerowaterallocations,ortoallocationsofcriticalwatersimplytokeepvinesandtreesalive.Water-dependentcommunitiesinthemid-riverandlowerriversiteswerealreadyseentobelocatedtowardsthepointiestandmostriskyendofwhatislikelytobetheriskofclimatechange.Howeveradultsacrossthecommunityinbothsiteswererelativelypoorlyprepared,bytheirrespectivelocalandstategovernmentsortheirnationalgovernment,tounderstand,learnaboutandbeartherisks.BothGoldingandAngwin(2009)andBrownandSchulz(2009)identifiedanurgentneedforbetterandmoreaccessibleinformationandunderstandingaboutthelikelihoodofrisks,onwhichfuturecommunity,business,familyandwatermanagementdecisionsmightideallybebased.GoldingandAngwin(2009)foundarapidlychangingcontextinthemid-river,Riverinasite.Mostadultswerestrugglingtolearnaboutbeingdrierthroughexistingcommunitiesofpractice.Therewasnolocaladultorcommunitylearningorganizationinthisregion.Thelearningthattookplacewasrestrictedamongstwateruserstowhatasmallnumberoffarmershadlearnedthroughthevariousindustryandgovernmentorganizations.Otherwise,whatmostpeopleknewhadcomefrompersonalnetworks,community-basedorganizationsandthepopularmedia.Confusionaboutanappropriate,learnedresponsewascomplicatedbyparallel,nationallypoliticizedcontestationaboutclimatechange,globalemissionandcausality,nonationalBasinplanoragreement,andastategovernmentwateragencystillindenialaboutclimatechangeinitscommunicationwithwaterusers.Inthiscontext,GoldingandAngwin(2009)identifyanurgentneedfornewinformationanddialogueaboutlikelyfuturescenariosandmanagementoptionsforwaterusersacrossthesite.Theyparticularlysuggestedtheneedfornewboundary andbridging organizationsthatareabletobringtogetherdifferentcommunitiesisaneednotonlytomanagethewater,butalsotoaccountforthewellbeingandfamiliesandcommunities.Learning issues by siteThe alpine site Thealpinecasestudy(Foley&Grace2009)foundcopiousevidenceofcommunitylearningtakingplaceintheregion.Thiswasseenthroughstrategiestomaintainthetouristeconomy,strategiesandprogramstoassistwithenvironmentalissuesrelatedtofiredamagetotheenvironment,andcommunitymembersbeingawareofandmodifyingtheirusageofwater.Itdrewitsconclusionsusingthenotionofframesofreferencefrom Berkhout,HertinandGann(2006).Thatis,participantsfocusedtheirunderstandingsaboutwidespreaddryingthroughcommunitybeliefsandparadigmswithintheirpatchoftheAlpineregionspecifically.ThereisevidencehereofwhatBerkhoutetal.(2006:151)categoriseashandlingandmanagingrisks.TheaestheticbeautyoftheAlpineregionanditsrelatedvaluetotourismwasunderstoodbymanyinthestudyastheframeofreferencefromwhichdecisionswerebeingmadeaboutdrying.Morethaninothersites,thisunderstandingincludedmoreacceptanceofclimatechange.Thecasestudyconclusionsawthattheframesofreferenceoftheparticipantsweretowardsthebeginningofastageoflearning,understandingandmanagingchangethroughalocalfocus,whichwasseenbyFoleyandGrace(2009)asanecessaryprecursortounderstandingclimatechange.The mid-river siteThemid-riverandlowerrivercasestudies(Golding&Angwin2009;Brown&Schulz2009)identifiedbothregionstobesignificantlyaffectedbyirrigationdrought,andthereforeindifficultandunchartedterritoryintermsofpreviouslylearnedorexperiencedresponses.Bothregionshadpreviouslyreliedonwatersecurity552 Barry Golding, Mike Brown, Annette Foley, Erica Smith, Coral Campbell, Christine Schulz, Jennifer Angwin and Lauri GraceWicked learning: Reflecting on Learning to be drier 553water supplywasimportantbutlessdirectlylinkedtofarmingfuturesthaninthetwoirrigationsites,astheregionwasprogressivelymovingfromopenchannelswithhightransmissionlossestoapipedstockanddomesticsupply.Drylandfarmerswithoutaccesstoirrigationwaterfromriversandwithminimalgroundwaterresourceshadalwaysreliedonandlearnedtoadapttoanaturallyvariableandhighlyseasonalrainfall,andwerefoundtobeinaqualitativelydifferentlearningspace.Learning to be drier in farmingwasfoundbySmithandCampbell(2009)tobealreadyhighlydevelopedintheirsite,overseverallifetimesofdrylandcroppingandgrazing.Thisrecentdecadeofdroughtyears,whileunprecedentedinscale,wasfamiliarintermsofitseffectsandinvolvedalearned,copingresponsebyfarmers.Ithadbroughtfurther,incrementalchangesincroppingsystems,waterretentionefficienciesandtechnologies.Ithadalsohastenedfurtherfarmconsolidation,whichmeansanexitfromfarmingforthosefarmingfamilieswhoselandhasbeenconsolidated,althoughdepopulationwasnotamajorissueinthelocaltowns.Thedroughtyearsandwaterrestrictionsinthetownshadimpactedongardensinawaynotseenbefore,butaswithfarming,peopleseemedtobecoping.Asinthetwoirrigationsites,themostdifficultandimportantlearningasidefromfarmingandlivinginadrierenvironmentwasthelearning needed to cope with the economic, social and community changes.Unlikeintheirrigationsites,thedrylandsitehadarangeofcommunity-basedandlocalgovernmentlearningorganisationsineachsmalltown,alreadywelladaptedtoleadandfacilitatethelearning.However,sometimesitseemedthattheinitiativesmayhavecarriedwiththemsomepre-existingattitudesandperceptionsthatwerenotalwaysorentirelyfunctional.Therewasalsoevidenceinthissiteofchanges to formal learning systemsbothincommunitycentresandschools,includingchangestocourseofferingstoreflectshiftsinthelocaleconomy.ofpractice,inclusiveofwater-dependentstakeholders,tohelpcommunicatecommonunderstandingsofthecomplexandrapidlychangingissues(Hahnetal.2006;Guston2001)topeopleacrossthesite.The lower river siteBrownandSchulz(2009)identifiedclusteringaroundsixdifferentformsofadultandcommunitylearningtypesinthedatafromthelowerriversite.Threeoftheselearningtypeswereorientedtowardsdevelopingandmaintainingsustainablebusinessesandcommunities,usingandextrapolatingfromlearningprinciplesandexperiencesfrompreviousfluctuationsinirrigationwateravailability.Theyincludedlearning to be productive,to be efficientandto be sustainable.Threeoftheotherformsoflearningwerenewerandmoreacute.Onewaslearning to surviveontheirallocationofcriticalwater,theamountofwatersimplytokeeppermanentvineandtreeplantingsalivewherenoproductivecapacitywasanticipated.BrownandSchulzalsoidentifiedthecommunityneedtolearn about support servicestoassistthosewhoareexperiencingemotional,relationship,financialandbusinessdifficulties.Thelowerriversiteissituatedinadifficultpointinthecatchment.ItislocatedtowardsthebottomendofagiantBasin,inwhichalmostallofthewaterusedisharvestedfromandalreadysharedbetweenthreeother,upstreamstates.Thewaterneedsofitsstatecapitalcity,Adelaide,hadyettobetakenoutdownstream.Theother,newlearningneedsidentifiedbyBrownandSchulz(2009)inthelowerriversite,furtherdiscussedinthecurrentpaperinrelationtowickedlearning,werelearning to live with uncertaintyandlearning to share.The dryland siteSmithandCampbell(2009)dividedthelearningfromthetranscriptdatainthedrylandsiteintofourcategories.Learning about the 554 Barry Golding, Mike Brown, Annette Foley, Erica Smith, Coral Campbell, Christine Schulz, Jennifer Angwin and Lauri GraceWicked learning: Reflecting on Learning to be drier 555Whilewereceivedconsiderablelocalsupportforourresearch,therewasanunderlyingandlearneddistrustamongstsomepeopleonthelandofauthoritiesandexperts.Localpeoplehadbeenmetaphoricallyburnt,severaltimesbefore,byresearchfindings,recommendationsandpredictions,mostrecentlyaboutfire(inthealpinesite)wateravailability(inthemid-riverandlowerriversites),salinity(inthedrylandsite)andenvironmentalflows(inallsites).Withanarguablelackofunderstandingaboutthecomplexityandlikelywickednessofthecausesofchange,ithadbeendifficultinallsitestolearntomanagetherisks.Ithadbeenrelativelyeasytoblameothers:experts,environmentalistsandpoliticians,andwaterusersupstreamordownstream.Thehardestlearninghadbeenaboutlearningtoacceptthatthechangesinwateravailabilitymaybeduetoclimatechange.Insomecases,businessesandfamilieshadinternalisedthemostdifficultlearning:thatsometimestherewasnoviableoptionsbuttowalkawayfromtheland,thecommunityand/ortheirbusinesses.Discussion: reflections on learningReflecting on the learning responses observed Therewasextensiveevidenceinallsitesthatwater-relatedstakeholderswithanincentive(financial,environmentaloridealistic)tosavewater,hadlearntmuchaboutwater savings systems and technologiesinthecontextofdrying.Thisparticularlyincludedwaterconservation,distribution,meteringandrecyclingtechnologiesinirrigationareasaswellascroppingsystemsinallsites.Mostofthislearninghadbeenachievedthroughacombinationoflearningbytrialanderroraswellasviagovernmentandindustryadvice.Similarly,therewasevidencethatsignificantlearninghadtakenplaceinlearningaboutnewways of doing businessindryerconditions.Learninginfarmingbusinesseshadtypicallyoccurredbyindividualsactivelyseekinganswerstoproblems,bytrialanderror,fromtheneighbour,byreadingthepaperorbygoingontheinternet.Reflecting on the learning choices available across sitesThediversityoflocalandpublicadultlearningchoicesavailabletoadultsinthefoursitesdiminished,asonemightexpect,withthedecreasingsizeofthecommunity,butalsodifferedbystate.Community-basedlearningopportunitiesandorganisationswereobservedinallruraltownslargeenoughtosupportsecondaryschoolsintheseandotherdrylandandalpinetownsinVictoria.Stategovernment-supported,community-basedadultlearningorganisationsprovidedimportant,local,firststepstohelpadultslearntocopewithawidevarietyofchanges.Theirapproachtendedtobemoreinclusiveofcommunitydevelopmentapproachesthantonarrowvocationalpreparationandretraining.Inmid-riverNewSouthWalestherewerenosuchorganisationsinlargerruraltowns.Inthelowerriversitethereweresomegovernment-sponsoredlearningorganisationsavailableandmentionedbyparticipants.Howevertheredidnotappeartobeagreatemphasisonaccessingorsupportingthem.Inallsitesandcommunities,therewasatop-downconservatismandinertiaassociatedwithformalandsectorallyseparateapproachestoeducationandtraininginschoolsandpost-compulsoryvocationaleducationandtraining.Inseveralimportantsensesandwithsomeexceptions,formaladulteducationinstitutionsandtheirstaffweretosomedegreeinsulatedfromandbufferedagainstthedirecteffectsofchange.Mostoftheseinstitutionsbenefitedfrompeopleandbusinessesneedingtochangeandretrainandsomeofthiswasteachingpeopletobedrier.Bycontrastbusinesses(includingfarmingbusinesses)wereatthecuttingedgeofchangeinthatthey had tolearntobedrierorfailasbusinesses.Thisincludedlearningnewwaystobemorewaterefficientandgrowdifferentcropswithverylittleornowaterallocations.Inadditiontothis,themostrecentlearninginbothirrigationsiteshadbeenabouthowtotradewater.556 Barry Golding, Mike Brown, Annette Foley, Erica Smith, Coral Campbell, Christine Schulz, Jennifer Angwin and Lauri GraceWicked learning: Reflecting on Learning to be drier 557separatetreatmentofagriculturalextensionfromeducationandtrainingprogramsintheirreportisindicativeoftheimplieddifference,whichweregardasunhelpfulandartificial,betweenfarmerslearningnewthings(p.187)andalargelyformaleducationandtrainingsystemthatservicesagriculture(p.196).Thetermremoteisoftenappliedfromafartositesandcommunities(likethosestudied)thataredistantfromcitiesandtheircomprehensiveservices.Lookingoutwardsfromeachofthesesites,formaleducationandtrainingsystemsweregenerallymissing,andwherepresentweresometimesregardedasremotefromorinappropriatetothelifelongandlifewidelearningneedsofplace-boundresidentsinallfour,smallruralcommunities.Climatechange,asRittelandWebber(1973)notedinIDCC(2009:72),ispartofafamilyofenvironmentallyrelatedwickedproblemswithnodefiniteformulationandnoclearpointatwhichtheproblemissolved.Assuchtheyposesignificantandarguablywickedlearningchallengesforallfourcommunities.Learning about the wickedness of the learning problemsDietzandStern(1998)identifiedfivekeycharacteristicsofwickedproblems,allofwhichhavecomethroughstronglyintheinterviewdataaboutlearningtobedrier,whetherclimatechangeiscausallyimplicatedornot.Thefirstcharacteristic,multidimensionalityisdemonstratedbothwithinandacrossallfoursites.Ifbeingdrieristakenasthechangedenvironmentalprocess,itcanbeseen,asDietzandStern(1998:441)describeit,tohavemanydifferenttypesofeffects,distributedunevenlysothatthoseaffectedfaceunequalshareofthecosts,risksandbenefits,withineachsiteandacrosstheBasin.Thesecondcharacteristic,scientific uncertaintyisalsopresentinmanyLearningtobedriernarratives.Decisionmakers,includinggovernmentwatermanagersandwater-dependentbusinessesinallsites,wantanddesperatelyneedtounderstandandknowthefutureSomeadvicewasavailablefrompastoral,agricultural,horticulturalandforestryindustryextensionservicesinboththeprivatesectorandgovernment.Importantly,muchofwhatthesegovernmentexpertsknewcameinturnfromtheexperienceofpeopleontheland.Astheperiodofdryinghadlengthened,learningaboutwatertrading(buyingandselling)andsubstitutingwaterfromothersources,particularlyfromgroundwater,hasalsogrown.Thelearningoptionsforwater-dependent,non-agriculturallocalbusinesses(suchasirrigationsuppliers,lasergraders,farmproduceprocessorsandcartagecontractors)havebecomeverylimitedinirrigationsites.Asthelongdryhadcontinued,manysuchbusinesseshadtriedtodiversifyandextendthelocationinwhichtheyoperatedtoincludeotherareasofthestate,andinsomecases,tootherstates.Manyotherserviceandretailbusinesseshadbeenverybadlyaffectedinallsiteswhereagriculturewasamajorindustry.Thishadresultedinbusinesseseitherreducingstaff,orinsomecases,closingupandmovingelsewhere.Therewasmuchdifficultylearningabout new family and social models thatfitwiththechangedcircumstances.Whileoff-farmincomehadbeenanimportantsupplementtofarmincomesinAustraliaforseveraldecades,morerecentlyoff-farmincomehadbeentheonlythingtokeepmanyfarmfamiliesviable.Thehardestlearning,again,hadbeenlearningaboutwaysofunderstandingwater-relatedcausalityandsolutions.Inmanyinstances,thishadalsorequiredlearningtolearnindifferentandnewways.Learning to extend knowledge of the risks and possible responsesAgriculturalextension,astheProductivityCommission(2008:188)observed,washistoricallydeliveredthroughstategovernmentdepartmentsbuthadmorerecentlybeenwoundback.Manyextensionarrangementswerenowconductedinpartnershipwith,andpartlyfundedby,theprivatesector.TheProductivityCommissions558 Barry Golding, Mike Brown, Annette Foley, Erica Smith, Coral Campbell, Christine Schulz, Jennifer Angwin and Lauri GraceWicked learning: Reflecting on Learning to be drier 559Severalformsof mistrust,thefourthwickedcharacteristic,areapparentinnarrativesdevelopedfromallsites.Thereisamistrustofthevariouslevelsofgovernmenttorespondinacoordinated,systematicandlogicalmannertolesswater.Inthemid-riveranddrylandsites,thereisevidenceofamistrustofeducationopportunities.Weweretoldthatthebestwaytogetparticipantstoattendtrainingopportunitieswastolurethemanddontcallittraining.Inseveralofthesitestherewasalsoamistrustandwarinessofusasresearchers,catalysedbytheirpreviousexperienceofthosewhohadtakenknowledgeawayonlytoseeitmisusedormisinterpreted.Thefinalcharacteristic,urgency,wasevidentinparticipantsvoicesastheyspokeabouttheirexperienceswithlesswater.Therewaspain,emotionandfrustration.Inthemid-riversite,therewerethosewhoovercametheirmistrustofnotanotherbloodystudytospeaktous,becauseWehavetodosomething,anything,aboutthewaterandifthereisachancethatthiswillhelp,letsdoit.DiscussionItisimportant,beforeconcluding,toacknowledgethatconsistentwiththenatureofwickedproblemsasdefinedbyConklin(2005),theproblemsofdryinginthesouthernMurray-DarlingBasin,andparticularlytheproblemofclimatechange,willrequirelargegroupsofindividualsinsideandoutsideoftheBasintolearnenoughabouttheproblem,tochangetheirmindsetsandbehaviours.GiventhatpeoplesresponsesacrosstheBasinwilldependtoalargeextentontheirbeliefsaboutcausality(over-commitmentofwater,drought,climatechangeoracombinationoftheseandotherfactors),thelearningrequiredwillbesimilarlywicked.WhileAustralianrainfallwasrecognizedmorethanadecadeagoasbeingmorevariablethancouldbeexpectedfromsimilarclimateselsewhereintheworld,Nicholls,DrosdowskyandLaveryrisksinordertomakedecisionsaboutfuturefire,environment,riverflow,irrigation,businessandcroppingrisks.Howeverthescienceofclimatechangeandpredictionistoouncertaintoprovideanythingotherthanalternativeprobablescenarios.Wealsoidentifyrecurringthemesinthenarrativesassociatedwiththethirdcharacteristicofwickedproblems,value conflict and uncertainty.AsDietzandStern(1998:444)putit,Peopledifferintheimportancetheyattachtothedifferenteffectsofanyaction,andthesejudgementschangeaspeopleexperiencehowtheirownandothersactionsaffectthethingstheyvalue.Valueconflictanduncertaintyofthisnaturewaspresentinthenarrativesinallfoursites,goingwellbeyondthecontestednatureofcausality.Peoplesdifferentvaluepositionsabouttherelationshipbetweenfire,controlburning,theenvironmentandwoodyweedsaregoodexamplesfromthealpinesite.TherewereconflictingvaluepositionsbetweenresidentsintheRiverinasitetomaintaingreenlawnsandnaturestripsandriparianwaterrightsandthoseoutsideofthesite(includingtheresearchers).Valuepositionsassociatedwithwhethertotradewatertemporarilyorpermanentlyawayfromasite(andparticularlyinterstate)wereparticularlyconflictualinbothirrigationsites.Therealsoseemedtobevaluesconflictinthedrylandsitebetweenthosewhoattendedassiduouslytotheneedtoadoptpracticesconsistentwithreducedwateravailability,andthosewhopaidlessattentiontoit.Whilesomerespondentsweretoleranttowardspeoplesvaryingadoptionsofbetterpractices,othersappearedquitejudgementaltowardsthosewhowereseentobelagging.Also,conflictingviewswereexpressedaboutthemotivesofsomeofthosewhoprovidedinformation.Forexample,theroleofagronomistsworkinginagriculturalextensionforprivatecompanieswasstronglyendorsedbysomerespondents,butcritiquedbyothers.560 Barry Golding, Mike Brown, Annette Foley, Erica Smith, Coral Campbell, Christine Schulz, Jennifer Angwin and Lauri GraceWicked learning: Reflecting on Learning to be drier 561bedividedbylocation,becausetheyappearedtohavedifferentperceptionsandexperiencesofdrynessdependingonwhichpartofthesitetheylived.Thoseatthehigheraltitudelocationbelievedthatwaterwasmoreplentifulbecauseofnearbystoragefacilitiesforthehydrosystem.Thoseattheloweraltitudelocationhadalivedrealitythatwaterwasmorescarce,astheirriveronlyhadwinterrunoffandbecamedryerintheotherseasons.Peopleinbothlocationswereconcernedaboutchangestotheregionwhichwouldaffectthelocaleconomythatcentredaroundtourism.Bothcommunitiessawthepotentialchangesasbeingofgreatconcern.Importantly,lesswatermeanthigherriskofwildfire.Weedsthathadgrownasaresultofthelastbushfirearealsoseenasathreattotheexistingaestheticsandlivelihoodsbeingmadeintheregion.Inthemid-riversitepeoplearoundHaypeopleareaskingsomeveryfundamentalquestionsaboutwhytheyliveintheregion.Withwaterscarce,somefacedthehardshipofdecisionsaboutstayingormoving.Whattheyhaddoneinthepastforsomewasnolongerviableorpossible.GoldingandAngwincapturedthewaythatyoungpeopleareaffectedbyschoolsclosingandpeoplechoosingtoleavethedistrict.Ingovernmentterms,thepeopleinthissitemustnowbeartheriskofwateravailabilityandwaterprices.Increasinglytheinternetisbeingusedasaresearchtool,aspeopleseekimmediateinformationtomakeadjustmentstotheirlives.Yetadisjunctionremainsbetweenthemessagefromtheexpertsandtheirscience,andthosewhobelievetheyhavelivedthroughthesamecyclesofdryingpreviously.BrownandSchulz,inthelowerriver,Riverlandsite,notedthatduetotheuseofweirsandlocks,thesuperficiallyfulllookoftheRiverisdeceiving.Whereaswaterlevelslookunchanged,flowrateshavemarkedlydiminished.Yetjustfiveminutesinland,awayfromtheriver,thereislittledoubtoftheimpactofthedryness,withtreesacrossthefloodplainindireneedofwater.MostpeopleintheRiverlandareproudoftheirefficiencieswithwater,thoughthisis(1997:66)identifiedevidencethatsomeofthepreviousrelationshipsbetweengoverningfactorshadalreadyshiftedclimatesystemsintheAustralianregion.Inthedecadesince,allfoursitesinourLearning to be drierstudyinthesouthernMurray-DarlingBasinhadexperiencedanunprecedentedseriesofunusuallydryyearsleadingtosignificantlylessrunoff,consistentwithpredictionsinmostclimatechangemodelsandscenarios.Itisimportanttoobservethataswecompletedthisfinal,sixthpaperinOctober2009someofthesouthernmostpartsoftheBasinhadexperiencedencouragingrains.Whileinsufficientinmostareastobreaktheirrigationdroughttheywereenoughtogivefarmersinthedrylandareawestudiedtheprospectofonegoodyearinadecade.WhetherthelowerMurray-DarlingBasinwillindeedgetwhatCSIRO(2007)predictsby2030:lowerannualaveragerainfall,runoffandstreamflow,moreseveredroughtsandmorehotdaysover35degreesC,willonlybeknown20yearshence.ConclusionConclusions by siteInthis,conclusiontothisfinalpaper,wereturntotheinitialresearchquestionswhichformedthefocusofourresearchprojectandourcasestudies:HowandwhatdoadultslearninresponsetochangesinwateravailabilityinthesouthernMurray-DarlingBasin?andHowisthelearningexperiencedbythedifferentstakeholdersandhowdothestakeholderslearntorespondtothechangedcircumstances?Inthissectionwesummariseconclusionsbysite.Allparticipantshadanunderstandingofwheretherewatercamefromandthattherewaslessofit.InterestinglyFoleyandGrace(2009)makethepointthatthenotionofbelongingtooneofthestakeholdergroupsbecomesproblematicasthepeopleofthesecommunitiesundertakemultiplerolesdisplayingmultipleidentities.Thereforethepeoplelivinginthealpinesitemightmoreusefully562 Barry Golding, Mike Brown, Annette Foley, Erica Smith, Coral Campbell, Christine Schulz, Jennifer Angwin and Lauri GraceWicked learning: Reflecting on Learning to be drier 563andinevitabledynamicsofthemess.Conklinsanalysisofwickedproblemswouldsuggestthattherearelikelytobenoeasy,technicalsolutionsorvalueinapportioningblame.Rather,thesolutionswilllieinthesocialdomain,inbuildingcapacitytocollaborateeffectively(pp.1819).Conklin(2008:10)suggeststhat[t]hefirststepincopingwithawickedproblemistorecognizeitsnature.Thereisapsychologicaldimensionhereashiftfromdenialtoacceptance.Ifclimatechange(andperhapsglobalwarmingassociatedwithhumanaction)areimplicatedandaretobemorewidelyaccepted,thecomplexlearningassociatedwiththeiracceptance,andtheactionstoaddressthem,areonesthatweallshareandneedtolearninaninterconnectedatmosphere.Evenifthisisanaturalbutextremeaberrationfromtheexistingclimaticvariability,thepolicysolutionsinvolvedwithchangesinwaterallocationinaninterconnectedBasin,particularlyincatchmentswherewaterentitlementsalreadyexceedsupply,willstillbeverydifficult.Inallcases,includingwherebusinessesandenvironmentalvaluesarealreadylost,damaged,severelycompromisedorunsustainable,thisnecessarilyinvolvessocialandpoliticaldecisionsandvalues,includingconsultingandlearningwithaffectedcommunitiesaboutwhatisdesirableandappropriate.Theobserveddifferencesinlearnedadaptationstodryingbetweensitesarelikelytoberelatedtothehetrogeneousnatureofthesitesandthecommunities,asanticipatedbyAdger(2003:400).Adgerpostulatedtheformationofa[climatechange]socialcapitalwherecommunitiesfindstrategiestomanagerisksthroughstrategicandlocalnetworksandinteractionsmanifestingdifferentformsofsocialcapitalindifferentcircumstances.Adger(2003:401)suggestedthatAlthoughinsightsfromsocialcapitalandcollectiveactioncaninformtheprocessesofadaptation,societiesthataredependentonclimatesensitiveresourcesarethemselvesheterogenousrelativetootherusersupstreaminthebasin.Manythinkthereisover-allocationofwater,butthisisseenasbeingmoreaboutbeinganupstreamproblemaproblemfortheRiverland.Environmentalistsandconservativelandandwaterresourcemanagersareseenasbeingatloggerheadswiththegrowers.Thehealthoftheriverisdesiredbyall,butprioritisedforonlybysome,asindividualinterestsaremaintained.InthedrylandsiteoftheWimmera-MalleeregionofVictoria,theresearchagainfoundthatfarmersandcommunitymembersweretryingtoworkandliveusingwatermoreefficiently.Insomecasesnewfarmpracticeswerebeingdeveloped.Newcropsweretried,feedbackwassoughtandinformalevaluationswereconducted.Informationwasbeingobtainedthroughlocalnewspapersandinformationpublishedbythewaterauthorities.Someinformationcamehomeviathechildrensschools,andincreasinglyviatheinternet.Informaltalksoccurredthroughandoverthefarmfencebetweenneighboursandacquaintances,wheresignificantobservations,informationandideaswereconveyedandexchanged.Explicitattemptsweremadetoengagefarmersthroughafarmersdevelopmentgroup.Theseoftenemployedprofessionalssuchasagronomiststoprovideadvice.Someothersinthedrylandsiteoptedtoenrolinshortskill-basedcoursesprovidedthroughaneducationortrainingfacility.Broader conclusions about learning across sitesTherelativelyrecent,extremedryingofthesouthernMurray-DarlingBasin,whilemorefamiliartodrylandfarmers,hascreatedmajorwaterresourceavailabilityandallocationproblemsacrossthesouthernBasin,andplacedirrigators,watermanagersandfireauthoritiesinunchartedterritory.Ifweacceptthatthisdifficultissueofdryingmightbeawickedmanifestationofclimatechange,ourtask,asConklin(2005:18)wouldsuggest,isnotwhosefaultthemessistheissueisourcollectivefailuretorecognizetherecurring564 Barry Golding, Mike Brown, Annette Foley, Erica Smith, Coral Campbell, Christine Schulz, Jennifer Angwin and Lauri GraceWicked learning: Reflecting on Learning to be drier 565CHDGCCommitteeontheHumanDimensionsofGlobalChange(2009).Informing decisions in a changing climate,PanelonStrategiesandMethodsforClimate-RelatedDecisionSupport,NationalResearchCouncil,Washington:NationalAcademiesPress.Conklin,J.(2005).Wickedproblemsandsocialcomplexity,Dialogue mapping: building shared understanding of wicked problems,Chapter1:120,Wiley,November2005,http://cognexus.org/wpf/wickedproblems.pdf,Accessed19October2009.CSIRO(2007).Climate change in the lower Murray Darling catchment,ReportbytheCSIROfortheNewSouthWalesGovernment.Dietz,T.&SternP.(1998).Science,values,andbiodiversity,BioScience48:441444.Fiol,M.&Lyles,M.(1985).Organizationallearning,The Academy of Management Review,10(4):803813.Foley,A.&Grace,L.(2009).Water,weedsandautumnleaves:learningtobedrierintheAlpineregion,Australian Journal of Adult Learning,49(3):451496.Golding,B.&Angwin,J.(2009).Bearingtherisk:learningtobedriermid-river.Australian Journal of Adult Learning,49(3):472496.Golding,B.&Campbell,C.(2009).LearningtobedrierinthesouthernMurray-DarlingBasin,Australian Journal of Adult Learning,November.Guston,D.(2001).Boundaryorganizationsinenvironmentalpolicyandscience:anintroduction,Science, Technology and Human Values,26(4):399408.Hahn,T.,Olsson,P.,Folke,C.&Johansson,K.(2006).Trust-building,knowledgegenerationandorganizationalinnovations:theroleofbridgingorganizationsforadaptiveco-managementofawetlandlandscapearoundKristianstad,Sweden,Human Ecology,34:373392.Hennessy,K.,Fawcett,R.,Kirono,D.,Mpelasoka,F.,Jones,D.,Bathois,J.,StaffordSmith,M.,Mitchell,C.&Plummer,N.(2008).An assessment of the impact of climate change on the nature and frequency of exceptional climatic events,BureauofMeteorologyandCSIRO,July.Kozulin,A.(2003).PsychologicaltoolsandmediatedlearninginKozulin,A.,Gindis,B.,Ageyev,V.&Miller,S(eds.)Vygotskys educational theory in cultural context,Melbourne:CambridgeUniversityPress,1538.Lave,J.&Wenger,E.(1991).Situated learning: legitimate peripheral participation,Cambridge:CambridgeUniversityPress.Lazarus,R.(2009).Superwickedproblemsandclimatechange:restrainingthepresenttoliberatethefuture,Cornell Law Review,94:11531232.sowhentheyarefacedwithsignificantchangesinclimateregimesandextremesofweatherinthefuture,differentsocietieswillclearlyadoptradicallydifferentstrategiesdeterminedinpartbytheirnetworksandsocialcapital.Differenttypesofnetworkswillsettleondifferenttypesofstrategiesforadaptation.Aswellasplannedlearning,thereisevidenceofagreatdealofunplannedlearning(CommitteeontheHumanDimensionsofGlobalChangeCHDGC2009)occurringinallfoursites.Muchofthelearningoccurringisundertakenbyindividuals.HoweverasbothSenge(1990)andFiolandLyles(1985)indicate,organisational(orinthiscasecommunity)learningisnotjustanaccumulationofindividuallearning.Itisaboutensuringthatalearningcultureispresenttonurturealllearning,sothattheknowledgebecomesbeneficialinawidersense.ThechallengeinallcommunitiesacrosstheBasinmightbehowtocreatebothacommunityofpractice(Wenger1998),whereknowledgeandlearningissharedamongstallstakeholders.Thereisalsoaneedtosupportdoublelooplearning(Argyris&Schn1974),sothatacoordinated responsetolesswatermightoccuratevery level.ReferencesAdger,W.(2003).Socialcapital,collectiveaction,andadaptationtoclimatechange,Economic Geography79(4):387404.Agyris,C.&Schn,D.(1974).Theory in practice: increasing professional effectiveness,London:Jossey-Bass.APSCAustralianPublicServiceCommission(2007).Tacklingwickedproblems:apublicpolicyperspective,http://www.apsc.gov.au/publications07/wickedproblems.htm,Accessed19October2009.Berkhout,F.,Hertin,J.&Gann,D.(2006).Learningtoadapt:organisationaladaptationtoclimatechangeimpacts,Climatic Change78(1):135156.Brown,M.&Schulz,C.(2009).Learningtobedrier:acasestudyofadultandcommunitylearningintheAustralianRiverland,Australian Journal of Adult Learning,49(3):497519.566 Barry Golding, Mike Brown, Annette Foley, Erica Smith, Coral Campbell, Christine Schulz, Jennifer Angwin and Lauri GraceAustralian Journal of Adult Learning Volume 49, Number 3, November 2009Investigating students beliefs about Arabic language programs at Kuwait UniversityShaye S. Al-ShayeCollege of Education, Kuwait UniversityThe current study attempted to identify students of Arabic programs beliefs about their chosen programs. To achieve this purpose, a survey was developed to collect the data from randomly selected students in liberal-arts and education-based programs at Kuwait University. The results showed that students were statistically differentiated as a function of different beliefs insofar as the Arabic language programs are concerned. Yet beliefs were not just confined to materialistic benefits; students tended to value other types of benefits as well. Implications for educational policies and recommendations for future research were also included. 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