Redirecting Social Science Research to Interdisciplinary Problem Solving: Participatory Action Research in the Pacific Islands

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Social science disciplines can move from their research turfs to a more direct service to communities and societies to engage in interdisciplinary problem solving and service learning. Instructional research and consulting use social sciences disciplinary approaches and tools to recast them in problem solving endeavors for planning and management in solidarity with local communities. This effort includes physical and natural sciences, the humanities, and the social sciences. Examples from Hawaii and other Pacific Islands involve participatory action research (PAR) for community building and planning, environmental management and land use analysis characterized by a human ecological bend at the island, district or watershed levels. The interlocutors have been indigenous and local island communities, as well as county, state or federal agencies. The intent is to promote collaborative “place based management” as an alternative to the inaction of remote public and private entities that have a hold on regulation and land. The presentation reviews (a) the theoretical basis for research design, approaches, methods, as well as (b) templates for the organization of information useful for EA, EIS documentation collaborative research, inter-stakeholders problem solving, decision making and partnerships for resource management. The conclusion reflects of the civil and governance organizational system needs to improve planning.


Keywords: Interdisciplinary Problem Solving, Participatory Action Research, Hawaii, Pacific Islands, Place Based Management, Planning
Stream: Politics, Public Policy and Law
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Luciano Minerbi

Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Luciano Minerbi, Dr. Arch, MUP, APA, AICP, is professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, teaching courses in land use policy and planning, neighborhood and metropolitan planning, urban form, watershed and environmental management and policy planning for sustainability, in Hawaii, Pacific, and South East Asian islands. His research, reports and publications address sustainable island development in urban and rural settings, land readjustment, watershed management, cultural impact assessments, heritage landscape analysis and cultural based planning. His projects include land use, environmental management, CZM, PRA, CBED, PAR, village planning, sacred places, subsistence practices, and responsible eco-cultural tourism and behavioral evacuation from natural disasters in island settings and labor force surveys for the new economy. Professor Minerbi’s consulting, research and training on integrated environmental management, and information systems and planning served local and indigenous organizations, neighborhood boards and rural councils, city, county, state, federal agencies (USEPA, USDOE, USAID, USACE/FEMA, USDOI, USDOA/NRCS, USNPS), the East-West Center, United Nations organizations (UNSO, UNCRD) and island governments or organizations (American Samoa, Samoa, Canary Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Timor Leste, and SPREP). He served on the Honolulu Commission on Housing and Community Development, his Neighborhood Board and Community Center.

Ref: I08P0712