UW EarthLab Innovation Grants

Advances in information technology are increasing the ability of individuals and organizations to accumulate and analyze data about their environments, their work, and their wellbeing (which we approach broadly, such as in 3D Wellbeing. See McGregor, 2009). This expanded data capacity has the potential to help communities more effectively create and use data that not only enhance environmental health but also community wellbeing. However, data collection projects are often driven by the needs of large institutions, extractive in nature, and generally engage local communities only in data collection activities and not as equal thought partners in the project design or the use of data. In particular, we see this gap as the key factor limiting the impact of marine conservation projects on community wellbeing. More meaningful engagement of communities as data partners at all phases of design and collection would create opportunities for more robust, accurate, and meaningful change, as all stakeholders gain a more thorough understanding of the connection between healthy oceans and healthy societies. With support from an EarthLab Innovation Grant, we will convene a multi-stakeholder workshop to build a model for a culturally appropriate curriculum for NGOs and social organizations to train community members in identifying, collecting and using data for decision making on marine conservation. Workshop participants will include 1) leading academics from a unique mix of domains spanning marine and coastal management, development studies, public policy, public health, and information science, 2) big data and development practitioners across a range of NGOs, international organizations, and industries, and 3) community stakeholders. Outputs from workshop activities will be analyzed to understand needs, opportunities, and considerations for enhanced community participation in data projects. This will be followed by the creation of a model curriculum for community data-for-decision-making, focused on marine conservation and its links to community wellbeing. An action plan will be developed for scaling, including partnership building and participatory performance evaluation to assess progress towards achieving conservation and community goals. The network built through the workshop will be expanded and moderated to continue innovating, with a particular interest in addressing challenges in collecting data to track progress in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Partnering with local stakeholders will allow their values and priorities to help identify SDG data needs as well as those data to support community-aligned goals.

Grant Info


Chris Rothschild

Start Date

Jan 22, 2019