Institutional Innovations to Promote Civic Engagement in Local Environmental Issues
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
Dr Ruth Lane
Lecturer, School of Social Sciences and Planning, RMIT University