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Last updated:

September 15, 2022


Unlimited Duration


This course includes:

Unlimited Duration

Badge on Completion

Certificate of completion

Unlimited Duration


11.941 and 11.942 make up a one-year seminar.

The goal of this seminar is to explore the role of science and scientists in ecosystems and natural resources management focusing on joint fact finding as a new approach to environmental policy-making. Increasingly scientists and science organizations are confronting a conundrum: Why is science often ignored in important societal decisions even as the call for decisions based on sound science escalates? One reason is that decision-making is often driven by a variety of nonscientific, adversarial, and stakeholder dynamics. Thus, even though science helps inform choices, it is only one of many values and interests considered by each stakeholder. In response to this emerging challenge, scientists, and science agencies such as the U.S. Geological Survey, are embarking upon research that explores the problems of incorporating science into value-laden societal decisions. This research includes designing experiments that will assess the appropriateness of using the new and emerging approach of Joint Fact Finding to address some of the Nation’s most contentious environmental conflicts. In the first few sessions we will examine the problems of using science in environmental disputes. In following sessions, students will analyze and discuss cases that involved or that should have involved Joint Fact Finding of various kinds.

Course Curriculum

  • Another America: Concepts of Aboriginal World Views and Regional Landscapes Unlimited
  • Science, Society, Technology, and the Environment: Some Connections Unlimited
  • Natural Resource Management in Rural Eastern Oregon Unlimited
  • Cape Wind Controversy and Wind Energy in General Unlimited
  • Current Status of Wind Power in General and Off Shore Wind Power in Particular Unlimited

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology