Collaboration, Cooperation, and Conversation is Key to Climate Action – A Model for Museums

Today’s Guest Post is by Jaime Clifton-Ross, Research Curator for CRC Research and Changing the Conversation in the School of Environment and Sustainability at Royal Roads University.

Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.

Gary Snyder

We live in a time of messy, wicked problems. Issues around sustainable development (ecology, society, economy) cannot be solved alone by any one sector, discipline, government, or community. The challenges we face, such as climate change or spatial justice, demand unprecedented collaboration and government coordination. However, we are often presented with doom and gloom messaging that fails to bring people together, offer solutions, or pathways forward.

 What is the Solutions Agenda?

To help Canadian communities become leaders in implementing sustainable community development, our research team created the ‘Solutions Agenda’. The concept for this action agenda emerged from the results of a 10-year Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Community Development at Royal Roads University, that explored what makes communities vital as well as climate change research in British Columbia.

It ultimately reflects the unanimous belief of over 50 Canadians that the time is ripe for Canadian communities to become leaders in implementing climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, as well as sustainable technologies, infrastructure, and building design and re-design.

Solutions Agenda
Solutions Agenda Graphic by Changing the Conversation

To uncover the key issues in sustainable development and to identify concrete solutions from across the country, Dr. Ann Dale moderated a series of conversations with expert panelists over a two-year period.

Using our public e-Dialogue forum Changing the Conversation, a diverse group of leading innovators (researchers, practitioners, decision-makers, policy makers, and civil society leaders) joined our research team in real-time text-based conversations that addressed food security, energy, multi-functional spaces, cooperatives, mental health, rural revitalization, waste, and the future of work.

These dynamic, informative, and solutions-oriented conversations were made publicly accessible as transcripts. They helped our research team identify concrete actions that were subsequently organized into 6 important themes:

  • access to opportunities and services,
  • climate change adaptation and mitigation,
  • social infrastructure,
  • physical infrastructure,
  • governance, and
  • new economic measurements.

Each listing bold and ambitious actions. Our team then hosted a Peer-to-Peer Learning Exchange, which brought together over 50 participants from the e-dialogues. Together, they discussed strategies and approaches for guiding Canadian communities towards sustainable development. Their consensus for the new paths forward resulted in the Solutions Agenda.

Brainstorming Visualization
Brainstorming visualization from Peer-to-Peer Learning Exchange

Key Takeaways for Museums

 The Solutions Agenda was built on a model of collaboration, cooperation, and conversation.

What made it so successful, is that it identified solutions and actions based on input from a variety of innovators from multiple sectors who brought diverse experiences, ideas, and knowledge to the table.

This model is perfect for museums as they mobilize around climate change adaptation and mitigation. Given the vast networks of museum workers and the existing public programs in place—namely speaking series, webinars, and workshops—bringing together a variety of stakeholders and engaging in dialogue can help the sector identify tangible solutions and actions around climate change. Furthermore, the supportive nature of museum networks can help mobilize these findings and ultimately effect social change and local action.

 Biodiversity Conservation Series

 We are currently leading an e-Dialogue series called Biodiversity Conversation: How important are the common loon and polar bears to Canadians, that is designed to increase civic awareness, engagement, and literacy on the importance of biodiversity conservation for all Canadians. We collaborated with Women for Nature, a Nature Canada initiative, to bring together female researchers, practitioners, and civil society leaders to explore biodiversity conservation (including Dr. Meg Beckel, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature). Following the conclusion of the series, we will draft another action agenda, co-authored with the expert panels, that will be circulated widely to the public and key decision-makers.

Polar Bear
Image via Pexels. CCO License

For regular curated content on innovations in sustainable community development, find CRC Research and Changing the Conversation on social media:







Jaime Clifton-Ross is passionate about digital storytelling and knowledge sharing via online communication channels, including blogs and social media. She holds a Bachelor of Arts, specializing in Art History, from the University of Victoria and a Master of Museum Studies from the University of Toronto. She currently works as a Research Curator for CRC Research and Changing the Conversation in the School of Environment and Sustainability at Royal Roads University.

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