Seminar Description

The seminar focused on four key questions:

  • What are the positive and negative social implications of drought on livelihoods in California? 
  • What strategies at the local and state levels can help build livelihood resilience in response to drought and future changes to climate, in spite of high uncertainty?
  • How do value systems and ideologies create barriers, and opportunities for change? 
  • And what lessons of drought resilience successes and failures can be utilized in other contexts?

To address these questions the seminar followed a critical pedagogy (Freire 1983) based on the co-production of knowledge through dialogue and experiential learning.  To implement this method, invited participants will spend the first few days interacting with key local stakeholders and resident academics to understand the root and proximate causes of drought in California.  This will be followed by field-based experiential learning.  Specifically, the participants will visit San Ysidro Farms in Nipomo and Ancient Peaks Vineyards in Santa Margarita to meet with farm/vineyard owners and workers and discuss the ramifications of the drought.  During the final two days of the seminar the participants, through open dialogue, will extract general lessons from the California case, and provide a foundation to identify specific research plans for the white paper and academic articles.

California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo was an excellent site for the seminar due to its internationally-recognized scholarship on disaster-related issues, its polytechnic focus on education, its proximity to large farming and vineyard communities, and its drought history.  The University currently boasts many prominent disaster scholars (e.g. William Siembieda, Ken Topping, and David Conn), who’s expertise can help guide the seminar discussion.  As a polytechnic university, current faculty members have particular interests in the practical application of knowledge, especially in the areas of agriculture, engineering, architecture, and business.  Finally, San Luis Obispo county has significant agriculture and vineyards (production value of $861,803,000 in 2012 [CFBF 2014]), and is one of the most affected drought areas in the state. As part of the seminar, we examined the areas noted above, observing the slow-onset hazard process and resilience management measures within their natural and cultural milieu.

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