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Lunch Seminar Series: Prof. Adena Rissman (Online)
February 17, 2022 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
The politics of setting goals and measuring outcomes for land, water, and wildlife
STS Lunch Seminar with Adena Rissman
Professor, Forest and Wildlife Ecology
February 17, 2022, 12:30-1:30 pm
Goal setting and performance measurement are important strategies for influencing change. We often want it all – abundant food and fiber, nutritious meals, clean water, biodiverse habitats, renewable energy, and thriving growers with equitable opportunities. Food and ecosystem goals have been set by the United Nations, countries, and regional governments. Yet the politics of goal setting and measuring outcomes is rarely explored across food, fiber, and ecosystem sectors, despite their interconnections. We focus on the Upper Midwest, USA to ask: 1) What goals have international, national and state governments established for food and fiber production, ecosystem conservation, and grower inclusion and quality of life? 2) How do policy participants evaluate these goals and the process of measuring and achieving outcomes? Through participant observation, document analysis, and interviews, we compare the ambitions and quantifications of goal setters, for instance 25% food and wood product export growth; no net loss of wetlands; 50% reduction of phosphorus runoff; wolf population recovery; carbon zero; 30% of land conserved by 2030; eat 5+ fruits or vegetables daily. Goals can motivate individual, financial, and scientific change through agenda setting and performance management, but can also be ignored, generate backlash, conflict with each other, and allow for backsliding. We examine the causal stories involved in goal setting and evaluation and how the construction of measures serves diverse political and social purposes under directional social and environmental change.