At the outset, it is important to acknowledge that all collaboration occurs within a particular setting or context. In this course we concentrate on the setting of sustainable communities. This is one of many settings in which collaboration may occur and sustainable communities themselves are understood in different ways. Context matters (Honadle, 1999; Edwards & Steins, 1999; Plummer et al., 2020; Sargent & Waters, 2004) and shapes collaboration (e.g., Plummer, 2009; Plummer & Hashimoto, 2011).

We can unpack the context of collaboration in sustainable communities (a social-ecological system) by asking some key questions, which direct attention to several considerations (Honadle, 1999; Edwards & Steins, 1999; Sargent & Waters, 2004):

  • What is the problem or resource context?
    • Here we draw attention to discreteness, temporal, natural, mobility and other boundaries.
  • What is the spatial boundaries of the collaboration?
    • Here we draw attention to collaboration occurring in a specific area and how that area is defined (i.e., by political jurisdictions, physical landscapes, etc.)
  • What is the social context?
    • Here we draw attention to culture, power, salience and governance.
  • How embedded is the situation?
    • Embeddedness, here, considers the centrality to the sustainable community. Consideration is directed to the dependency upon the resource, psychological attachment, and openness to opportunities.



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Building Sustainable Communities: Collaboration Copyright © 2022 by Ryan Plummer; Amanda Smits; Samantha Witkowski; Bridget McGlynn; Derek Armitage; Ella-Kari Muhl; and Jodi Johnston is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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