Organized Reasoning

‘Organized Reasoning’ is a collection of ideas and tools which GB assembled from a variety of sources. The goal is to help professionals organize their thinking about complex subjects and better present them in written form. There is a particular focus on making effective arguments, where ‘argument’ means organizing reasoning to lead to a specific conclusion intended for a particular audience. A great deal of professional communication and writing contains argument, in this sense.

Ideas about Organized Reasoning were first collected into a university course in a Master’s program in Environmental and Management. Research has been done on the effectiveness of significance determinations as arguments in impact assessments. It turns out they are often quite weak arguments. Other steps have been taken, or are underway, to apply Organized Reasoning in a variety of contexts, and to share the ideas in different ways, as described below.


GB at Hong Kong seminar

GB at a seminar in Hong Kong, speaking about a particular application of Organized Reasoning (photo by Simon Cheung)

Organized Reasoning Workshops

To make the ideas of Organized Reasoning available to working professionals, some key points were summarized into one- and two-day workshops. The most popular Organized Reasoning workshops have been those customized for practitioners and regulators who work with Environmental Impact Assessments.


Workshops have been offered for practitioners by:

International Association for Impact Assessment, Western and Northern Canada Affiliate
          Vancouver, Victoria, Yellowknife, Whitehorse, Calgary, Edmonton.

International Association for Impact Assessment, Annual Conference Training Course
          Florence, Italy

British Columbia Institute of Agrologists
          Vancouver, British Columbia

Canadian Land Reclamation Association, Conference Training Course
          Red Deer, Alberta

Hong Kong Institute of Environmental Impact Assessment
          Hong Kong, China


Workshops have been offered to staff and invited colleagues by:

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
          Headquarters: Ottawa
          Regional Offices: Vancouver, Edmonton, Quebec City, Toronto, Halifax

Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board
          Whitehorse, Yukon

Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Assessment Board
          Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

National Energy Board of Canada
          Calgary, Alberta

Government of the Northwest Territories, Department of Lands
          Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Natural Resources Canada
          Ottawa, Ontario

Landsvirkjun, The National Power Company of Iceland
          Reykjavik, Iceland

Skipulagsstofnun, The National Planning Agency of Iceland
          Reykjavik, Iceland


Current Projects in Organized Reasoning

At the moment, GB is working with two government agencies to provide training for staff to provide practice and additional skills that build upon introductory workshops. A book about OR is in draft and is (gradually!) approaching completion. Targetted for completion in 2018, it will be available from this website. A flowchart describing how Organized Reasoning can be added at particular points in the impact assessment process is available at the link below. Steps to document applications of OR in reducing project risk are underway. More information about these efforts will be available in future.


More Information

There are downloadable documents, PowerPoint presentations and videos available about Organized Reasoning in the materials posted on this website in the Menu Item:  Information Access > International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) Conference Materials