The social learning potential of participatory water valuation workshops : A case study in Tasmania, Australia

Nikkels, Melle J.; Leith, Peat; Kumar, Saideepa; Mendham, Neville; Dewulf, Art


Participatory water valuation workshops are useful for their valuation outcomes, but can they also foster social learning? Social learning involves changes in understanding through social interactions between actors, which go beyond the individual to become situated within wider social units. Participatory water valuation workshops involve dialoguing about knowledge, perspectives, and preferences, which may be conducive to social learning. In this paper, we assess the social learning potential of a participatory valuation workshop, based on a case study in Tasmania, where farmers, water managers, and a policy maker shared their personal perspectives on the past, current and future values of irrigation water. To assess the social learning potential of a single participatory valuation workshop, we analyzed drivers—that is, factors positively influencing social learning—and outcomes—that is, indications that social learning occurred. Data were collected through an exit survey, in-workshop reflections and semistructured interviews following 3 weeks and 6 months after the actual workshop. The results indicate that the workshop provided the drivers for social learning to occur. In addition, participants indicated to have learned from and with others, and that the workshop provided improved and extended networks. According to the participants, the workshop led to a shared concern about increasing prices for water licences and induced substantive outcomes related to the use, management, and governance of irrigation water. We conclude that participatory valuation workshops, such as the one analyzed here, can foster social learning.