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Diving Into Deep Problems

Amanda Cravens leads the negotiation workshop; courtesy M. Krebs

Thankfully, the Monterey Area Research Institutions’ Network for Education goes by an acronym that’s easier to remember: MARINE. But both the full name and acronym hold key information: that MARINE is a consortium of institutions with graduate programs focused on the oceans, particularly the Monterey Bay. In addition to Stanford’s main campus and Hopkins Marine Station, MARINE includes California State University, Monterey Bay; University of California, Santa Cruz; Moss Landing Marine Laboratories; Naval Postgraduate School; and the Monterey Institute for International Studies.

Stanford’s Center for Ocean Solutions (COS) hosts MARINE and its myriad leadership and professional development activities around Monterey Bay. Students from all seven MARINE campuses have participated in decision-making simulations, communications training, research design workshops, and other opportunities to “equip students with the skills to be ocean leaders and communicators.”

A notable example of the “knowledge to action” projects MARINE aims to create is Amanda Cravens’ (PhD 3rd) collaboration with advisors Janet Martinez (Law) and Meg Caldwell (Law) and COS for a workshop that simulated public policy negotiations around marine spatial planning. Wrapping up an educational series on marine spatial planning, the one-day capstone workshop introduced students to the complex issues that policy-makers and scientists grapple with in marine planning settings and provided students with valuable negotiation skills. The workshop’s centerpiece was a four-hour experiential curriculum case written by Amanda and a team from COS: early career fellows Matt Armsby, Erin Prahler, and Melissa Foley; program manager Margaret Krebs; and intern Casey Zweig, under Jan Martinez’s editorial guidance.

The simulation allows ten players to take on roles to negotiate a marine spatial plan for the Beaufort Sea in the American Arctic Ocean. Working in three groups of ten, participants negotiated three key issues - oil, fishing, and infrastructure - while keeping the interests of the party they represent at the forefront. The US Coast Guard representative, for instance, cared primarily about rapidly building the infrastructure the agency requires, and thus was willing to compromise on oil or fishing with other parties who would support the Coast Guard’s position on infrastructure.

Debriefing the groups outcomes and negotiation process proved to be as interesting as the simulation itself. Students reported that this experiential “learning by doing” approach helped them understand how policy-makers succeed only by cultivating alliances and making compromises and illustrated the research and communication skills scientists need to make themselves relevant in a policy process.

Since its premier with MARINE, the simulation has been taught to the Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellows, in advanced negotiation classes at Stanford, and at a negotiation workshop for Natural Resources Defense Council staff. The curriculum - the case plus teaching notes - is also being published and distributed by the Harvard Law School’s influential Program on Negotiation's clearinghouse of educational materials. Thus, MARINE helps researchers and policy-makers link knowledge to action across the country, well beyond its Monterey Area namesake.