I find it very exciting that great strides have been made in several fields that are relevant to supporting professionals develop their skills in environmental management. There are better tools to help people learn in general, to support creative and critical thinking and also to help the more complex tasks of applying what is still usually taught strictly as technical knowledge (biology, hydrology, economics, etc.) to problem-solving expertise. There are management tools too, some from engineering and operations research and others developed specifically for environmental applications.
However, these learning, thinking and management tools are not widely taught at university. So I have made an effort to organize and package them, and share them with environmental professionals in different ways.
Some major topics have been:
- Analytical Thinking and Communication
- Organized Reasoning and Professional Writing
- Project Management and Adaptive Systems Management
Analytical Thinking and Communications
Over fifteen years, I have developed and teach a university class for master’s students in Analytical Thinking and Communications. It addresses topics to support technical professionals including:
- Organized reasoning and argument
- Decision making
- Technical writing
- Self-directed professional development.
Organized Reasoning Workshops
To bring some tools from my Analytical Thinking course to working professionals, over the last four years I developed short workshops in “Organized Reasoning and Professional Writing”. I have presented them to several professional audiences, but the most popular are those customized for professionals who write environmental impact assessments. I’ve presented workshops, modified slightly for the needs of different audiences, over 30 times in ten cities in Canada, Italy, Iceland and China.
Project Management and Adaptive Ecosystem Management
These topics were introduced in the section ‘Ecology and Environmental Management’. They are complementary skills that support the technical knowledge and tasks that professionals use.
Project management refers to the planning and management steps that help organize and bring to conclusion efforts, ‘projects’, that will end with specific final product and usually a fixed budget and schedule. Systems management refer to the planning and management tools that apply to ongoing ‘programs’ that continue from year to year, but which need ongoing guidance and improvement. Adaptive ecosystem management is a special subset of system management tools particularly designed for the challenges of partial knowledge, incomplete data and fluctuating conditions that are typical of natural ecosystems.
I have shared these tools in classrooms, in workshops and as a coach to ongoing real-world projects.