Institutional Innovations to Promote Civic Engagement in Local Environmental Issues

Dr Ruth Lane
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In 2002, the National Museum of Australia and the Murray-Darling Basin Commission launched an innovative collaborative program called the Murray-Darling Basin Outreach Project. Its overarching purpose was to increase community engagement in natural and cultural resource issues in the Murray-Darling Basin. It consisted of the development of a series of communication and education projects that largely relied on web based information and communication technology (ICT). Each project entailed a different model for involving regional communities in program development. In conjunction with the staged rollout of these projects, the Committing to Place research team evaluated their effectiveness as tools for engaging diverse communities. The research findings have wider implications for government agencies seeking to engage communities in collaborative or participatory programs with a public benefit agenda. They demonstrate the strategic and practical values of collaborations between museums and natural resource management agencies and highlight the significance of place as a cultural concept that could usefully inform civic engagement in local environmental issues.

Keywords: Natural resource managment, Museums, Participation, Community Engagement, Communication, Place, Institutional change
Stream: Cultural Sustainability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr Ruth Lane

Lecturer, School of Social Sciences and Planning, RMIT University

Ruth Lane joined RMIT in February 2004 after a professional life as a curator at the National Museum of Australia where she was responsible for interpreting the theme of people’s interaction with the Australian environment. In both her role as a museum curator and in her academic research, she has explored the links between the emotional experience of place that fuels the concerns of individuals, the stories of place preserved in memory, oral history or material culture and scientific concerns about environmental change. Her PhD, titled ‘Place-Making in the East Kimberley: Land interests and symbolic capital in north west Australia', explored evolving land interests associated with Aboriginal land use, tourism and irrigated agriculture since the construction of the Ord Irrigation Scheme in the 1960s. Ruth has ongoing research interests in natural resource management, tourism and indigenous land use, and continues to explore the connections between material, social and symbolic dimensions of place.

Ref: S06P0322