402: Methods for Navigating Wicked Terrain


Glenn Page, SustainaMetrix
Edward Wilson, The Headwaters Group Philanthropic Services


Drilling Down on the Impacts of Hydrofracking: Using Mind Mapping Software to Navigate a Wicked Problem (Edward Wilson, The Headwaters Group Philanthropic Services)

In this session we will demonstrate the use of “mind mapping” software (Personal Brain) to organize and present information on a complex environmental issue – Marcellus Shale gas drilling in Pennsylvania. Wilson was hired by the William Penn Foundation to conduct a survey of the environmental and community challenges posed by the rapid expansion of gas drilling and hydrofracking – a classic “wicked problem” involving multiple impacts, diverse stakeholders, disputed facts, and competing values. Instead of preparing a conventional written report or PowerPoint Presentation, Wilson chose to organize the information in the form a “mind map” that that allows users to plot their own course through a complex network of ideas, and to access external Web resources for more in-depth information on topics of particular interest. The format presents a useful alternative to conventional linear presentations. This will be an informal session in which Wilson demonstrates the use of the software and then leads participants through a discussion of its advantages and disadvantages and its potential application by environmental evaluators.

Response to Ecosystem Change: Using a Complexity Lens (Glenn Page, SustainaMetrix)

Response to ecosystem change is about instigating changes in behavior in how ecosystems are utilized and how conflicts among social groups are addressed – clearly complex terrain. A baseline of governance response to ecosystem change is the foundation for the practice of adaptive ecosystem based management that responds to changes in the condition and functioning of the ecosystems of concern, changes in the governance system and to the program’s own learning. A set of methods have been developed to encourage a long-term perspective, and an appreciation of the roles played by civil society, markets and government in adapting to ecosystem change.  The methods are designed for use by teams of professionals working to apply the principles of ecosystem-based management in coastal regions. These are typically interdisciplinary groups educated in such diverse fields as the natural and social sciences, law, and business and are designed to engage governmental agencies, businesses, non-governmental groups and academics with an interest in achieving more sustainable forms of coastal development through ecosystem stewardship. An example of this application in the coastal districts of the Western region of Ghana, Africa is presented as a case study.

Presentation Materials


  1. Avery Sen
    24 June 11, 8:46am

    Of course, there is also prezi:


  2. Avery Sen
    24 June 11, 8:45am

    Other mind-mapping software mentioned by audience:





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