Issues of water policy in the U.S.A. West are about people and the diverse beliefs and values that they hold. The relationship among these beliefs and values and society’s ability to find policy solutions is strong, but not always evident. To illustrate how beliefs and values are connected to water challenges, this paper highlights the results of two Q-Method surveys given to 84 water stakeholders in Colorado. The stakeholders included people representing environmental, agriculture, recreation, and urban interests as well as water providers, elected officials, and researchers.
The emergence of more and more new technologies ranging from genetic modification to nanotechnology is significantly affecting the environment in many different ways. Yet, policy making has not been able to keep pace with the rapid development of these technologies because of deeply entrenched divisions among stakeholders who prioritize different, often radically opposed, sets of values associated with technological interventions. Drawing on a theoretical framework of “sustainable citizenship” and a methodological platform of Q-surveys, this article identifies the shared values embedded in the overtly polarized positions of stakeholders to provide policy makers a common ground to work on. The article highlights a novel form of public engagement that interweaves socio-ecological rationalities with those of the economic and the technological. Mapping the values and beliefs of a variety of stakeholders and finding what is common to them paves the way for more inclusive policy responses to the challenges of new and emerging technologies.