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Narratives

Given the complexity of the world’s sustainability challenges, a new kind of leader is needed—one who leads collaboratively, not hierarchically; who understands complex, coupled social-environmental systems; and who is dedicated to linking our best knowledge with decision making and action.
- Pam Matson

In launching this collection of stories, our intent is to start a conversation with you, our colleagues who are pursuing sustainability and linking knowledge to action.  While excellent articles and books exist on the fundamentals and principles of knowledge to action, the “how to” or the “doing of actionable science” is missing. 
 
How do we come to value actionable science? And once we value it, how do we learn the leadership skills required to undertake actionable science? One approach is through storytelling.  Many of us come to appreciate these values through understanding the values of our respected peer group or mentors. And we discover which skills are important, and how to acquire them by listening to, or reading stories about our peers and how they discovered the importance of these skills, or by modeling our behavior after their behavior. 
 
Through stories we tell the process of actionable science and help to build a community of practice. Each story draws out and analyzes a specific scenario. The experiences that the authors share, through success and failure, help to demonstrate the skills and leadership qualities needed to link knowledge to action. Their collective expertise is useful to elucidating the challenges of moving into this type of science. 
 
We seek to co-create a curriculum for emerging leaders—both those who will continue within the university as well as those who will be in government, business, and not-for-profit organizations.  These stories and the collective leadership framework provide a common language that we hope you will find useful as a way to describe collective leadership.  
 
Join with us to work toward developing more stories, approaches, practices, and tools for doing actionable science.
 
You can find our leadership narratives and their associated teaching notes here