Interactive Methods of Participation and Decision A


Environmental decisions are frequently controversial due to its multi-disciplinarity and cross-cutting variety of issues. In face of this reality, there is a need to develop new and more adequate tools to deal with the uncertainty and ambiguity characterizing the decision-making processes. Students should be able to: understand the trends which underlie complex problems; critically evaluate decision-making processes; implement and evaluate participatory processes to assure joint collaborative decision making when required.

This course aims, more specifically:

(1) Make students aware and prepare them for the understanding of the key aspects and conceptual framework of support to the collaborative processes of decision;

(2) Acquisition of key concepts for the operationalization of active participation;

(3) Development of competences in the structuring and conducting of interactive methodologies in practice;

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Lia Maldonado Teles de Vasconcelos


Weekly - 3

Total - 66

Teaching language



No requirements


Dryzek, John S. (2000). Deliberative Democracy and Beyond. Liberals, Critics, Contestations. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK

Innes, Judith E; David E Booher (2010) Planning with Complexity: An Introduction to Collaborative Rationality for Public Policy. Taylor and Francis, NY, USA

Susskind, Lawrence; McKearnan, Sarah; Thomas-Larmer, Jennifer (Ed.) (1999). The Consensus Building Handbook. A Comprehensive Guide to Reaching Agreement. Sage Publications, Inc. Thousand Oaks, CA, USA

Breslin, J. William; Rubin, Jeffrey Z. Ed. (1995). Negotiation Theory and Practice. The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. Cambridge, MA, USA

van den Belt, M. (2004) Mediated Modeling: A System Dynamics Approach to Environmental Consensus Building. Island Press, Washington, USA

Teaching method

Part expository this course recur to innovative techniques of teaching inspired in Dewey and Freire, aiming to turn the student into an active agent. He/she is encouraged to analyze/interpret/debate/reflect/explore a real case, applying quantitative/qualitative methodologies learned, consolidating acquired knowledge and creating competences in its use, tutorially supported by the faculty.

Evaluation method

The continuous evaluation integrates the following components: 30% Minitests + 70% Work Assignment (includes oral presentation, written work and individual work)

Two mini-tests, previously registered in CLIP, with 60 min duration each, with equal weight in the grade of the theoretical-practical component, in which the respective average should be equal to 9.5; there is no minimal grade required in each of the mini-tests

A work assignment individual for PhD students,which grade should, also, be equal or superior to 9.5, is supported tutorially by the faculty, having four moments along the semester in which the students receive feedback and guidelines from the professor on parts of the work that are handed in by the students. This allows them to improve and adjust the work assignment until the hand in of the final written document. After the handed in of the final written document the students present the work orally within a time frame established, and they are encouraged to explore creative and adequate forms of communication.

The 2 mini-tests are done in the classroom in the Campus and in real time, with the surveillance of the professor(s).

Subject matter

Governance: formal / informal democratic structures. Legal framework for participation. The role of politicians, experts and civil society. The role of the different types of knowledge – lay, traditional, historical and technical – and need of articulation. Construction of meaning, histories and myths in the relevance of information. The discourse as a way of power in societies. Capital building (intellectual, social, politico, institutional). Challenges of the new contexts. Difficulties in the implementation of active participation and myths. Key concepts: type of problems; communication; group dynamics; interests/values/positions. Value-added and synergies of group work.

Theory and practice of interactive methodologies and collaborative participation (3rd generation): identification and assessment of key actors, their interests and perceptions; Stakeholder mapping, relationship and conflict networks; Perception and risk assessment; Facilitation techniques, negotiation and environmental mediation. Communication, involvement and mobilization of citizens, NGO and the private sector. Integration of interactive methods in studies/plans/projects. Key aspects, methodologies and tools of participated modeling. Case studies: qualitative and quantitative approaches. Environmental conflicts: Nimby effect; structuring participatory processes for conflict resolution. Environmental and Land Use policies: development of strategies and policies; structuring consensus building processes. New forms of citizenship and social responsibility: the role of the expert.


Programs where the course is taught: