The purpose of this blog is to document and share results from my National Science Foundation funded dissertation research on computational environmental modeling. I am interested in the performative role that computational modeling plays in producing socio-ecological systems and the way that alternative modeling practices can perform socio-ecological systems differently. Computational models have become an “obligatory point of passage” for our understanding and management of complex environmental systems, and in many cases, such as in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, they play a central role in the management of environmental problems. With a single, overarching model – the Chesapeake Bay Modeling System (CBMS) – that influences all policy and practice in the watershed, and many other modeling projects taking place at varying scales, it is safe to say that the watershed is overdetermined by models. The questions that drive this research are:
- What is the position and role of the CBMS in producing the relationships that compose the Bay socio-ecological system?
- How can alternative modeling practices (e.g. open, participatory, collaborative) restructure those relationships and produce a different socio-ecological system for the Bay and its watershed?
My hope is that this research can be used to inform future modeling projects in selecting appropriate methods depending on the social and environmental issues at hand. Most importantly, I hope that the research will encourage modelers and other scientists to recognize the social impacts of their practices, and think about alternative ways of engaging the public and addressing environmental issues.