Source: UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN - EXTENSION submitted to
THINKWATER II: GROWING KNOWLEDGE TO SOLVE WATER PROBLEMS
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
EXTENDED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
1005847
Grant No.
2015-68007-23213
Project No.
WISN2015-030115
Proposal No.
2014-09402
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
A8101
Project Start Date
Mar 15, 2015
Project End Date
Mar 14, 2019
Grant Year
2018
Project Director
Kushner, J.
Recipient Organization
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN - EXTENSION
432 N. LAKE STREET
MADISON,WI 53706
Performing Department
Program Dev and Evaluation
Non Technical Summary
This project seeks to improve U.S. agriculture by transforming how we design, deliver and evaluate education and outreach related to water. It addresses the Program Area Priority focused on "how new knowledge will be delivered to agricultural and nonagricultural water users to understand the problems or issues being addressed and actions necessary to identify appropriate solutions for these problems."ThinkWater II will leverage the investment made by USDA-NIFA in the arena of youth water education by extending its impact through the land grant system, its affiliated networks, and its partners. ThinkWater II will disseminate and evaluate the effect of the ThinkWater deliverables developed under our current grant (Water Equals National Education Campaign; award #2011-51130-31148), and will develop new educational materials/technologies that build on the existing framework. ThinkWater's approach to education and outreach relies on embedding the universal and elemental patterns of how we think into existing water programming. We believe that embedding this approach in existing places where water education and outreach is occurring will bring about a profound shift in the way we think about both water and education. Our systems-based evaluation will investigate the following outcomes:1. The degree to which water science (content) is understood more deeply by teaching it in parallel with developing metacognition,2. Whether learners increase their capacity and understanding of how they think and construct knowledge as a result of this approach, and3. Whether that deep understanding and metacognition leads to more engaged or improved behaviors around water use and protection.This file MUST be converted to PDF prior to attachment in the
Animal Health Component
0%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
(N/A)
Applied
50%
Developmental
50%
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
90302103020100%
Goals / Objectives
This project seeks to improve U.S. agriculture by transforming how we design, deliver and evaluate education and outreach related to water. It addresses the Program Area Priority focused on "how new knowledge will be delivered to agricultural and nonagricultural water users to understand the problems or issues being addressed and actions necessary to identify appropriate solutions for these problems." ThinkWater II will leverage the investment made by USDA-NIFA in the arena of youth water education by extending its impact through the land grant system, its affiliated networks, and its partners. ThinkWater II will disseminate and evaluate the effect of the ThinkWater deliverables developed under our current grant (Water Equals National Education Campaign; award #2011-51130-31148), and will develop new educational materials/technologies that build on the existing framework. ThinkWater's approach to education and outreach relies on embedding the universal and elemental patterns of how we think into existing water programming. We believe that embedding this approach in existing places where water education and outreach is occurring will bring about a profound shift in the way we think about both water and education.The main activities of this integrated project are organized around five core objectives. They are:1) Development of new and expanded educational resources and technologies for in-field and in-class2) Focused demonstration in up to 7 locations nationally3) Development of a National Fellows Program focused on water education capacity building and expansion4) Delivery of a national outreach and marketing campaign with an emphasis on engaging new audiences, networks and partners, and5) Implementation of robust systems evaluation that includes studies to demonstrate impact and development of large scale capacity for replicability.
Project Methods
The proposed project, ThinkWater Phase II, would continue to engage existing national ag-water and natural resource networks. As well, ThinkWater's existing expertise and resources will be expanded and leveraged through the development of key partnerships with new/emergent networks not currently reached or served well (e.g. farm labor, young farmers with non-farm backgrounds, niche aquaculture for high end restaurants and markets, historically underserved populations). Emphasis will be placed on increasing the capacity of water education and outreach professionals to dramatically improve the impact of their programming. Specific detail for each objective is outlined below.Objective 1: Development of new educational materials and technologiesThinkWater II will build on the foundation laid by the current ThinkWater grant to reach expanded audiences and networks of educators, outreach specialists, scientists and youth with new educational resources and media. Focus will be paid to adapting and expanding existing ThinkWater resources initially developed for educators/leaders of youth programs, with a focus on 4H, to new adult user groups engaged in ag-water or water education and outreach efforts. Efforts to engage those working with youth will continue as well. Development of organizational capacity to deliver higher impact education will be focused through specific partnering programs or organizations in up to six to seven demonstration sites.The key to all media assets proposed under this objective is their interactivity. As we engage with professionals delivering water education/outreach to adults and youth, we will offer ways to deepen their understanding of effective pedagogy and robust evaluation. For youth audiences or those working with youth without a background in water/ag education, we will provide ways for them to interact with and see water alongside food and energy production in new ways. All video assets will be designed to increase engagement of water educators, scientists and youth, in developing a deep understanding of water, agriculture and food; or if they already possess this, a deep understanding of how to educate and evaluate for real impact.All ThinkWater II educational material production will be crafted to serve the demonstration sites collectively with the capacity to adapt for application in diverse contexts. We will conduct evaluation efforts to refine and improve the educational resources and media assets we have already produced, and will produce an array of carefully targeted types of new resources and assets throughout the project.Objective 2: Focused demonstration at multiple geographic locationsIn ThinkWater II, six to seven demonstration sites will be selected to work very closely with in the implementation of ThinkWater's approach to water education and outreach. Beginning in years one and two, we will focus on implementation in WI as a pilot state, moving to include CA, CO and a New England state or collection of smaller states in years 2 and 3, and adding several more in years 3-4. Selection criteria include a state in the southeast, an island and a Tribal community/nation. In years one and two, we will develop location-specific plans for how each state/location wants to approach educational outreach and capacity building related to water. This will include identification of key partners to be involved in focused application of, support with and evaluation of ThinkWater materials/approach. Each state would have a coordinator who would be responsible for reaching existing players in the water education/outreach space (e.g. agriculture research stations), as well as those not current served well or engaged in ag-water efforts. State coordinators would be led by a national coordinator.Objective 3: National Fellows programA National Fellows program will bring together a small group (up to 3) of invited educators/outreach professionals from partner programs or organizations in each state who will engage in a focused learning community on ag/water education and outreach scholarship and practice. Fellows will be provided a stipend and expenses covered for their participation in the program. Fellows will be located in Extension and partner organizations that will be engaged in a focused dissemination, capacity building and evaluation effort. The Fellows will meet together face to face and by distance in years 2 and 3, and will be offered in-depth training, coaching, mentoring and support for improving and investigating their own organizations' educational practice. Additionally, Fellows will be trained to teach others about ThinkWater's materials and approach, and will serve as ThinkWater facilitators for continued outreach in their state. A focus of the Fellows program will be on scholarship related to the model of integrated elements (research, education and outreach) championed by USDA and the land grant system. The Fellows Program will be developed, led and coordinated by members of the project team.Objective 4: Delivery of a national outreach and marketing campaignWorking closely with six to seven demonstration states is foundational to a national outreach and marketing campaign in that state-focused efforts and successes will lay the groundwork for a larger communication effort. The purpose of this national campaign is to reach new networks or educators, in and outside of current ag/water education and outreach spaces, and increase public awareness of and capacity to think differently about water. The campaign would begin with a focus on the demonstration states by engaging with the Fellows, project advisors and others to think critically about those not currently being reached at all or effectively by water education and outreach efforts. Additionally, the campaign seeks to bring together 'usual' players alongside emerging/new players in the water education space through convening functions.The following activities and deliverables are a key part of the national campaign and they focus specifically on getting people to interact with each other and with educators connected to ThinkWater. One strategy will involve the convening of key and emergent players in ag-water sectors through sponsored events at local (state) and national levels. This will include engaging with prominent organizations or efforts, as well as those underrepresented and not historically served well or engaged. A second strategy will focus on the creation of mixed media and innovative structures of interactivity that take advantage of the concept of crowdsourcing the content of the website.Objective 5: Robust systems-based evaluationThe evaluation of ThinkWater is based on a systems model of evaluation, which takes the perspective that a large national effort is an integrated whole comprised of distinct parts. Systems evaluation seeks to measure and describe how the parts are (or are not) working together toward a larger aim. In this approach, evaluation is both a perspective on the whole effort (through investigation and inquiry) as well as a part of the whole. To that end, evaluation is engaged at the very beginning of the effort as part of the project design; helping to clarify the question of "to what end" the activities and investments are working in service of the overall project objectives. Evaluation will be integrated through every objective of the project and will be used to facilitate the improvement, scaling, and application of findings to the field of practice in ag/water outreach and education. The evaluation will seek cultural-relevance while incorporating aspects of developmental, participatory, and utilization-focused evaluation. The evaluation will be applied at two scales: the state demonstration sites and the national campaign.

Progress 03/15/17 to 03/14/18

Outputs
Target Audience:Water educators, Extension professionals, researchers, other Extension professionals (not specifically water), community activists, water policy and administration professionals. Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?The 2017 the project was responsible for training and supporting evaluator Amulya Rao, at the University of Wisconsin-Extension. Amulya's background is in climate change and business sustainability. She has a background in project management and evaluation, with a strong interest in systems thinking. The project supported students Stephanie Gibbs, Ithaca College, School of Communications, as research assistant, Noa Davis, (Media Production major) Tompkins Cortland Community College, Assistant Editor Summer/Fall 2017. Christian Conyers (Journalism), Ithaca College, Assistant Editor,, Fall 2017. (edited) How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?We are using various methods to communicate our work. First, we have submitted or are in process of submitted journal articles to scholarly publications. We have presented at several conferences. We use websites, social media (newsletters) and blogs to communicate with stakeholders. We host conferences and livestream and web-archive those conferences. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?The year four and final year plan of work will advance our vision-mission to educate, engage and empower 7 billion systems thinkers to solve wicked water problems by focusing most closely on objectives 4 (outreach) and 5 (systems evaluation). Our goal by the end of year four is to have the following outcomes/outputs in place: 1) a Committed Minority of water researchers, educators and Extension professionals who are leading systems thinking efforts in their state or organization, and working closely with those TW has trained and who are now excited and engaged, 2) an evidence-based case that illustrates the value and impact of systems thinking applied to water research, education and outreach, 3) a suite of systems thinking resources accessible nationally through our website and portal for all, and 4) new partnerships and future collaborations related to water, systems thinking or both. Objective 1: Resources The primary deliverables related to objective one include: 1) a portal that houses all TW resources in an accessible format for water professionals, 2)a film documenting the entire ThinkWater movement and investment; from its early origins in youth water education to its current reach well beyond, 3)TW knowledge base will be developed for the portal, and 4) evaulation resources adn technologies. Objective 2: Demonstration Continue to support ThinkWater School participants, WWTN members, and others we have engaged with in a low-touch way Objective 3: Fellows Continue to support past national Fellows in a low-touch way Objective 4: Outreach We will kick off our final year with a ThinkWater symposium in Washington DC around World Water Day. This event will feature national fellows and ThinkWater School participants' work, as well as provide opportunities for agency and organizational leaders interested in systems thinking to discuss ways to strategically build it into their portfolio. Practitioners will have an opportunity to discuss application of systems thinking to real water education and research contexts. Early in year 4 we will identify and bring together a select group of water scientists, educators and professionals,who have been involved in ThinkWater in the past, and are interested in leading systems thinking capacity building and implementation in their state or organization. Over year four we will work closely with this cohort to help them design, implement and evaluate ThinkWater in their state, drawing on the WI demonstration as a base resource. The cohort will meet face-to-face up to 3 times in year four, and will be supported in a learning community format via distance technology in between. This "Committed Minority" will be supported by a national program manager, and their efforts will be documented through film and other methods. We will continue to present at national conferences and events. Objective 5 Year four will focus on the development of a logic model builder and collective impact tool, and related publications and educational resources. The comprehensive impact and process evaluation of the WI demonstration will be completed in early year 4.

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? In year three, we focused our attention on developing a Committed Minority through our national fellows program and a focused demonstration in Wisconsin, building an evidence-based case, and developing additional resources and technologies. Below is a description of activities by project objective. Objective One: Resources Year three continued our focus on the development of materials and technologies including visual/educational materials; audio and video assets; and technology solutions. Please visit: www.thinkwater.us. A significant focus this year was the delivery of our online systems thinking training (STMS) after extensive development and testing. This training was moved onto a new learning platform called EdX - a well-known interface for online learning. The benefits of this move are many; most notably, we now have easier navigation of the course, and better integrated (and less obtrusive) measures of learning throughout and at the end of the course. The results are instantly available to the user and our team. These results are used to gauge both ease of use of the training and understanding ofcourse concepts. This new platform allows for easy revision of the course based on feedback. Objective Two: Demonstration Year three focused on ThinkWater being implemented in Wisconsin to pilot, innovate, and learn from applying systems thinking to water education and outreach, and as a demonstration for adaptability in other states. In addition to general training and outreach efforts, ThinkWater was primarily implemented through Wisconsin ThinkWater School and the Wisconsin Water Thinkers Network. Wisconsin ThinkWater School was designed to capitalize on both increased interest and urgency around water issues and advances in systems thinking to enhance community water education and outreach in Wisconsin. ThinkWater School accomplished this by integrating systems thinking into program development and delivery. Six teams including 19 professionals participated in ThinkWater School. Participants were chosen from 45 applicants, and represented diverse organizations, agencies, and municipalities throughout the state. All teams worked to engage the public around protecting the quality of the state's water resources. Team members completed online training and attended 4 in-person training and planning sessions during 2017. Teams developed community education and engagement programs during the course of Wisconsin ThinkWater School. They used systems thinking to build shared understanding of their issue, design education programs, develop unique approaches to address community issues. Their projects address water education issues such as: community engagement, invasive species, water quality, watershed scale planning, restoration, and quantity. The Wisconsin Water Thinkers Network (WWTN) is a diverse network of over 200 individuals interested in public engagement around water. The WWTN uses digital communication, communities of practice, and in-person gatherings to create, connect, and share water public engagement strategies and resources to develop a state of engaged water thinkers. During 2017, 97 people participated in 8 communities of practice/webinars, 65 people attended 2 regional in-person gatherings, and 53 people attended the annual WWTN Gathering. The monthly newsletter is distributed to 130 members. Both the WWTN and the WI ThinkWater School members were supported through web-based resources as well as print materials and in person support. Objective Three: Fellows This year we were excited to announce the selection of ten diverse leaders in water education, outreach, and extension to be USDA ThinkWater Fellows for 2017-18. The ThinkWater fellowship builds a cohort of scholars and professionals engaged with water-related issues and teaches them systems thinking for application to their ongoing professional work. While the first cohort of ThinkWater fellows were advanced scholars and faculty conducting water-related research, fellows from the second cohort work in positions that allow them to integrate systems thinking into program design, education, and outreach involving a broad range of audiences, such as farmers, community members, volunteers, and youth. The fellowship committee received many outstanding applications from candidates across the country doing important work in the water arena. Throughout 2017, the Fellows have meet via monthly webinars to learn systems thinking for the purposes of integrating and utilizing it in their professional roles and outreach. Additionally, we have met in person, on-site, with each Fellow to enhance their work, build stronger connections to ThinkWater, and provide more focused support for their projects. Webinars over the next few months will focus on helping them further develop their projects in preparation for presentations at the ThinkWater Symposium in DC for World Water Day. Objective Four: Outreach Year three included continued outreach efforts such as speaking and training engagements- including conferences, events, webinars, workshops, courses and meetings, state-specific outreach and capacity building, and a focus on scholarly publications. The national outreach in year three included sessions at the Soil and Water Conservation Society conference, the North American Association of Environmental Education conference, a keynote at the South Platte Forum, a webinar for The Stewardship Network, and various other presentations or trainings. We are continuing to build our evidence-based case (EBC) focusing on the results of systems thinking applied to water research, education, Extension, and policy. Our case includes the research and evaluation results of systems thinking capacity building with Arizona Project Wet (youth and teacher education), TW national fellows cohort 1 (research and policy), TW national fellows cohort 2 and Wisconsin demonstration (adult/community education and Extension), and outreach efforts in other states by fellows cohort 2. We have accepted, submitted and have in-progress publications in the following journals: Journal of Water Research, Journal of Environmental Education, Society & Natural Resources, Journal of Extension and the European Journal of Operational Research. We were initially planning to hold a 2017 ThinkWater Systems Thinking Symposium but due to the timing of Fellows completion, we will hold this event in the beginning of year 4, on March 21 in Washington DC. Objective Five: Systems Evaluation In year three we implemented an impact and process evaluation of the Wisconsin demonstration using a systems approach. Our guiding evaluation questions were: How did TW influence participants' metacognition/systems thinking capacity and skills? How did ST influence their program development and delivery? How did ST influence their participants' learning? What programmatic efforts contributed to or hindered impact? What are we learning in the WI effort that can be transferred to/adapted for other people and places? In the Wisconsin evaluation we used both direct (performance assessment) and indirect (self-report) measures of change. Our methods included: document analysis, survey, focus groups, interviews, participant observation, systems thinking assessment instrument, analysis of secondary evaluation data. As part of building a case, we are developing a film/video story about ThinkWater in Wisconsin. This will be available at the end of year three and can be coupled with the video about our first cohort of Fellows. We continue our development of systems thinking deliverables including online tools to transform logic modelling and evaluation practice, along with supporting publications on systems thinking. We have also taught and developed resources for teaching systems evaluation to others.

Publications

  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Awaiting Publication Year Published: 2017 Citation: Cabrera D., Cabrera L, Powers E., Solin J. & Kushner JL 2017. Applying systems thinking models of organizational design and change in community operations research. European Journal of Operational Research, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejor.2017.11.006.
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Under Review Year Published: 2017 Citation: Kushner JL, Powers E., Solin J., Cabrera D. and Cabrera L (in progress). Research on wicked water problems: Accelerated training in universal systems thinking skills. Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education.
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Other Year Published: 2018 Citation: Kushner JL, Cabrera D., Cabrera L, Powers E., and Solin J. (In progress). Teaching thinking in environmental education. Journal of Environmental Education.


Progress 03/15/16 to 03/14/17

Outputs
Target Audience:Water scientists, educators, outreach/Extension professionals, researchers and policy people have been reached through presentations, social media, outreach events, trainings, conferences, the website, and publications. These audiences reflect diverse geographic and cross-sector locations including those working with youth and/or adults and in many areas of water.The focus on intensive face-to-face training events and research studies were in Arizona, Wisconsin, and New York. Less intensive training and outreach occurred in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, Maryland, Ohio, and New Mexico. Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?ThinkWater provided training and development through its Wisconsin Demonstration and outreach efforts to other states, as well as through the national fellows program, engagement of students on the project, and other conferences/events. WEBINARS - Provided through theWisconsin Water Thinkers Network, monthly webinars explored a variety of topics around systems thinking in water education and outreach.4 webinars, 70 participants WORKSHOPS Provided Introduction to Systems Thinking in Water Education and Outreach workshops for education and outreach professionals, science communicators, researchers, high school students, and undergraduate students. Workshops were3-6 hours in length and provided theoretical framing of systems thinking and hands-on application of systems thinking in the participants' areas of work/interest. (187 total participants) Wisconsin = 4 forapprox. 152 participants Nationally = 4 for 80 participants CONFERENCES - Provided anoverview of ThinkWater and anintroduction to systems thinking in water education and outreach to water and environmental education professionals throughout the country at 4 national/international conferences. (135 attendees) North American Association of Environmental Education 45 attendees International Association for Society and Natural Resources 25 attendees University Council on Water Resources 20 attendees Maryland Water Monitoring Conference 45 attendees COACHING Provided support to water professionals interested in integrating systems thinking into their work. This support was provided to the staff of theWisconsin Wetlands Association, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Environmental Education Consultant, and National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)graduate students. Additionally, nine national fellows were supported through coaching and mentoring. PARTNER SUPPORT/CONSULTATION Worked with partners to inegrate systems thinking into their organizations at the organizational and programmatic level. Partners included Earth Force, Colorado Foundation for Water Education, Wisconsin Wetlands Association, Riveredge Nature Center.Additionally, partners in the Wisconsin ThinkWater School effort include: Waukesha County, Pepin County, City of Superior, Milwaukee Water Commons, Wisconsin DNR, UW Extension, UW Sea Grant, UW Green Bay. EVALUATION RESEARCH The project provided in-depth training in systems evaluation to a graduate student at the university of wisconsin. STUDENT TRAINING The project supported a graduate student focused on systems evaluation, an undergraduate student focused on media and marketing, nine national fellows, eight of whom were graduate students. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?CONFERENCES North American Association for Environmental Education International Association for Society and Natural Resources University Council on Water Resources Maryland Water Monitoring Conference PUBLICATIONS Cabrera, D., Cabrera, L., Powers, E., Solin, J., & Kushner, J. Applications of Systems thinking to Organizational Design and Change in Community Operations Research. Revise & Resubmit at European Journal of Operational Research. Cabrera, L., Cabrera, D., Kushner, J., Powers, E. (2016) "A systems approach to evaluation: overcoming the limitations of the traditional logic model with systems thinking mapping software." (working paper) WEBSITE (www.thinkwater.us) SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE CFWE blog https://blog.yourwatercolorado.org/2016/08/01/putting-the-thinking-into-water-education-with-thinkwater/ What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?In year three we will focus on the follow areas, which will be detailed in our year 3 plan of work. Objective 1 In year three materials development will not be a primary focus. We will continue to develop our website, portal, and software, as well as support outreach and research efforts with materials as needed. The toolkit and facilitator guide will be a main deliverable. Objective 2 In year three we will fully implement WI ThinkWater school, conduct relevant research and evaluation on this effort for purposes of demonstrating impact and learning what is effective for scaling and transfer. We will continue to develop the WI WaterThinkers network and continue with national outreach building on the WI demo. Objective 3 Our national fellows program in year three will focus on education and outreach professionals from around the country and potentially internationally. The focus will be on in-depth capacity building and support in systems thinking applied to water education/outreach. Objective 4 Our outreach and public relations in year three will focus on scholarly publications, translational research and accessible product, and events. We will host another national symposium on systems thinking later in the year. Objective 5 Year three will focus on scholarly, translational publications in systems evaluation, the development of a logic model replacement instrument, and the application of systems evaluation to evaluation studies of the WI demo and outreach efforts.

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? Objective One: Materials developed in year two were primarly designed to serve the research and outreach elements of the project. Specifically, media assets including video, were used to develop the national fellows' case studies, document the national symposium, animate print/visual educational tools, and webinar/on-line course development. Print and visual assets were developed to support the WI WaterThinkers Network and WI ThinkWater School, various national outreach/training events, and the toolkit. Software and web infrastructre was improved. Objective Two: Year two focused on operationalizing a plan for ThinkWater in Wisconsin as an innovation space and demonstration state. The purpose of the efforts in WI are to: build systems thinking capacity within the water space in order to improve water research, education, outreach and policy; to learn from what works and what doesn't programmatically; and to share the WI efforts with others nationally. The primary initiatives in WI include the development of the WI WaterThinkers Network and the launch of WI ThinkWater School. The network has applied the systems thinking framework of VMCL to build its organizational vision, mission and platform for learning. They have hosted numerous webinars and workshops to teach others about systems thinking. They are developing partnerships with many different organizations, agencies and networks. Wisconsin ThinkWater School is being launched in year 2. Objective Three: We hosted our first round of national ThinkWater fellows at Cornell University. This group of researchers received in depth training and support in systems thinking and the application there of to their water research. The fellows presented their work at a national symposium (talks found here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJYST9b0XMPtzqRXKoYYoENVmQqyXpMx4).The fellows experience and impact of the program are being documented through case study. Objective Four: Outreach efforts focused on speaking and training engagements- including conferences, events, webinars, and meetings. Scholarly publications did not meet their target deadlines due to extending the research related to our programmatic efforts. Objective Five: Evaluation activities included: 1. Evaluation planning and design for the Wisconsin demonstration using systems evaluation, including purpose, use, stakeholders, key evaluation questions, methods (collection and analysis) and timeline/mgt. 2. Development of instruments and protocols 3. Implementation of WI Network leadership team touchpoint 4. Feedbackon theonline systems thinking course 5. Developed a worksheet/User-guide to help others use DSRP to develop key evaluation questions 6. Developed a worksheet to help others develop an evaluation of a systems thinking program 7. Developed a documentation process using Smartsheet 8. Developed baseline evaluation questions to the ThinkWater School application process

Publications

  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Under Review Year Published: 2016 Citation: Cabrera, D., Cabrera, L., Powers, E., Solin, J., & Kushner, J. (2016) Applications of Systems thinking to Organizational Design and Change in Community Operations Research. Revise & Resubmit at European Journal of Operational Research.
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Other Year Published: 2016 Citation: Cabrera, L., Cabrera, D., Kushner, J., Powers, E. (2016) "A systems approach to evaluation: overcoming the limitations of the traditional logic model with systems thinking mapping software." (working paper)


Progress 03/15/15 to 03/14/16

Outputs
Target Audience:Water scientists, educators, outreach/Extension professionals, researchers and policy people have been reached through presentations, conferences, and publications. These audiences reflect diverse geographic and cross-sector locations including those working with youth and/or adults and in many areas of water.The focus on intensive face-to-face training events and research studies were in Arizona, Wisconsin, and New York. Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?WEBINARS We conducted a webinar entitled "Systems Approaches in Water and Nutrient Management Education" as part of the monthly webinar series hosted by the North Central Region Water Network. The webinar had 37 participants. PARTNER SUPPORT/CONSULTATION During the first year of ThinkWater II, we worked extensively with Arizona Project Wet and STEM Hero in Wisconsin. We provided consultation (and training for Project Wet) on curriculum development and teacher professional development for both organizations. EVALUATION RESEARCH Project Wet AZ Pilot Study -In the first year of ThinkWater II, we provided 14 hours of virtual training in systems thinking to 3 teacher trainers who then delivered systems thinking-based water education professional development to 20 teachers. Those teachers will in turn teach 1400 students STUDENT TRAINING In year one, in addition to planning and conceptualizing the Fellows program, we utilized external resources and opportunities to run a preliminary "fellows" program involving Master's students from Cornell's Institute for Public Affairs. Students were exposed to a short course on systems thinking and wrote a paper and gave a short TED-style talk to explain whether and how their ongoing research on a diverse array of policy issues was affected. A special issue of Cornell Policy Review will publish the case study, including all the students' articles. Nicholas Campbell was an undergraduate from St. Edward's University in Austin, TX who worked as an intern in year 1 on research, scripting and as a production assistant for PhotoSynthesis Productions and as a technology assistant for Cabrera Research Lab. Additionally, he helped build a Pipedrive database of people interested in systems thinking, people interested in water issues, and people interested in both. This will be used and evolved for mass and targeted outreach and communications. Sophomore Alec Simmons from Lehman Alternative Community School has been trained in systems thinking and metamaps in order to help with animations for the online course. Ithaca College graduate intern Leah Gallant learned some new editing software in order to do some assistant editing for the project. Ken Hill, the new social media technician at PhotoSynthesis Productions, has trained on the TW resources in order to understand how to best promote them. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?PRESENTATIONS The project director and two co-PIs presented on ThinkWater purpose, goals, and activities in Washington, D.C. on April 16, 2015 for the National Science and Technology Council's Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability (CENRS), Subcommittee on Water Availability and Quality. Additionally, this group presented to national program leaders at NIFA from a range of areas including STEM, climate, youth development, nutrition, bio-energy, water, sustainability, and international programs. As part of our Wisconsin strategy, our ThinkWater Coordinator presented an introduction to ThinkWater and systems thinking to 18 first-year students interested in sustainability at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point on November 10, 2015. He also presented to 150 high school students about water issues and the need for systems thinking related to future career choices at Pulaski High School on December 4, 2015. PUBLICATIONS ThinkWater members published in a leading systems thinking journal about how learning systems thinking has positive impacts on emotional intelligence, in line with ThinkWater's aim to create caring about water issues among individuals. Cabrera, D, Cabrera, L, Powers, E. (2015.) A unifying theory of systems thinking with psychosocial applications. Systems Research and Behavioral Science. 32(5): 534-545. Our Wisconsin ThinkWater Coordinator published a blog introducing ThinkWater to water researchers, educators, and stewards who are involved with the Yahara 2070 project. Solin, J. (2015) ThinkWater: Better Thinking to Sustain Our Waters. Blog for Yahara 2070 Project. https://yaharawsc.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/thinkwater-better-thinking-to-sustain-our-waters/ Our Wisconsin ThinkWater Coordinator published a blog highlighting the importance of systems thinking in water education on the Waters of Wisconsin blog site of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. The blog was distributed directly to 2000 recipients and shared via social media. Solin, J. (2016). Water Education: Cultivating Water Thinking. Blog for the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, Waters of Wisconsin Initiative. http://www.wisconsinacademy.org/blog/waters-wisconsin/water-education-cultivating-water-thinking. WEBSITE (www.thinkwater.us) In 2015, we created a new ThinkWater website built on the MetaMap Platform. Integrated with systems thinking mapping tools (My MetaMaps and ThinkQuery), training resources (Teaching Thinking 101), campaign marketing prompts (videos including #Count Me In, social networking tools, and organizational functions). The ThinkWater website redesign including streamlined marketing and targeting based on user segment (research, education, extension). It includes a collective impact section and many more free downloads. SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE We dramatically expanded our online activity for ThinkWater 2, including through our facebook page (facebook.com/waterthinkers), but also targeting large discussion groups in the systems thinking world and the area of sustainability and water-related issues. We increased our number of page likes by over 325 in the last several months. We created an online blog, Systems Thinking Daily (http://stdaily.ghost.io/), to increase the accessibility of systems thinking to a wide audience. The blog contains posts about ThinkWater, its purpose and specific activities. We anticipate expanding the number of water-related blogs in our second year, having helped promote a baseline understanding of systems thinking in year one. We have also disseminated a number of infographics (see below) across different social media lists, along with video assets created as part of ThinkWater I. Finally, we have a twitter account: twitter.com/waterthinkers. AWARDS/VIEWINGS In the first year of ThinkWater II we received a number of awards recognizing our media and outreach activities. These include the 2015 21st Annual Communicator Award of Excellence Winner for Online Video; the 2015 21st Annual Communicator Award of Excellence Winner for Integrated Campaign for the ThinkWater Integrated Campaign; and the 2015 Bronze Telly Award for interactive and educational media for the "A Little Film About a Big Idea" video. We also held a showing of A Little Film about a Big Idea and the Count Me in rap video at the Ithaca Film Festival on May 31, 2015. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?Objective 1: Develop Resources and Technologies TECHNOLOGY AND MEDIA BASED RESOURCES The primary deliverables for year two include an educator tool kit/facilitator handbook to be accessed via a new web portal, further development of on-line courses and video assets, improvements in the website and Metamap platform. PRINT AND VISUAL MATERIALS We will continue to develop info-graphics for use in education and outreach efforts. Specifically new visual materials will be developed focused on Systems Thinking applied to research of "wicked water problems" and on systems evaluation, as well as visual collateral for events and outreach activities. Objective 2: Demonstration States Wisconsin will serve as a pilot demonstration state with a purpose of developing and learning from approaches for integrating systems thinking into water research, education and extension at a state level. The Wisconsin demonstration will include the seven strategies listed below including the implementation of a WI WaterThinkers Network. A kickoff even for the Network will take place on March15 in Wisconsin. Objective 3: National Fellows The first group of ThinkWater Fellows will begin in winter/spring 2016 and continue through Dec. 2016. Up to10 Fellows will be provided in-depth exposure to and capacity building in Systems Thinking, and will be applying it to their research of a "wicked water problem." The NY Water Research Institute (Dr. Todd Walter) will be a core collaborator in this effort. Fellows will be presenting their research at a videotaped Systems Thinking and Water conference at Cornell in late fall. Fellows will be participants in our own research and will be the subjects of case studies. We will be complete a write up of the Fellows during year 2, including a meta case study that will be filmed. Deliverables include: case studies, poster or other visual graphics on systems thinking applied to water research, media elements, and papers. Objective 4: Outreach and Marketing Campaign Year 2 will include a focused effort to engage ag/water audiences through events, publications, social media, conferences and presentations, and taking advantage of emergent media opportunities. The publications will focus on approach and impact of application of systems thinking to water research, education and outreach/extension and will target water-related journals in science, policy and education. Specific journal targets are listed below, as are core conferences. A ThinkWater event is currently scheduled mid-way through year 2 and will bring together water and systems thinking professional/academic communities. We will also continue to promote products and resources from our first grant focused on youth water education. Social media will continue to include our blogs and other aspects of web/mobile presence. Conference presentations will be targeted toward events that focus on water, natural resources, food-water-energy-nexus, sustainability, systems thinking, STEM, and other related content areas. Objective 5: Systems Evaluation INSTRUMENT DEVELOPMENT Year 2 will focus on the development of an assessment tool to measure metacognition (systems thinking) that will be validated and tested independently, for use in and beyond the project studies. Additionally, short, accessible tools such as an infographic and short paper will be developed to help others understand and apply principles of systems thinking to evaluation. Evaluative protocols will be developed and embedded in the on-line training and will be used to help us evolve our products. We will continue to develop instruments and protocols for measuring the affective domain (e.g. caring, engagement). STUDIES Scale studies are intended to help us learn what is needed to support scaling and long term sustainability of capacity building in systems thinking within the professional world of water. Year 2 will include several phases of Scale study implementation from approximately 50-250 participants.Flip studies are intended to help us learn from building the capacity of a small group within an organization or network in an intensely focused way; and to support their training of other educators using the materials they trained under, in order to affect student learning outcomes. We will complete a "Flip" implementation and study in late spring of 2016 which has focused on training 3 educators at Arizona Project Wet, who have used their training to train 20 teachers, who then are implementing "thinkified" lessons with hundreds of youth. "Flip 2" will be implemented in year 2 and will focus on a network or organization that does water education with adults. These are process and impact studies.Fellows studies are to investigate the impact of exposure to ThinkWater's ST resources and an in-depth focus on application to research. A selection of Fellows will be studied to learn about the impact of exposure to their research of a wicked water problem.

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? Objective One: Develop Resources and Technologies ONLINE TRAINING: STMS 101 A major focus of year one was the creation of STMS 101, an introduction to systems thinking adapted from the first five chapters of Systems Thinking Made Simple: New Hope for Solving Wicked Problems. We are in the final stages of completing this online, interactive, chat-based course. Users interact by answering questions that check for understanding and by creating their own Metamaps.The creation of the course involved scripting and videography of on-camera material; designing and creating graphic elements of the course; design of the course platform using Metamap software; shooting over an hour of explanatory videos; and testing of the course by ThinkWater team members. In February we will pilot-test the training with a small focus group (approximately 10 individuals), doing on-camera interviews for research purposes and improvement of the training. This pilot version of the course solicits feedback on the utility of both mapping activities and each video in the approximately 2-hour training.The STMS 101 training will be the centerpiece of our effort to scale teaching systems thinking with water educators, Extension professionals and researchers, and will also serve as a critical resource in our Fellows and organizational development programs (called "Flip"). INFOGRAPHICS We created a number of infographics in the first year of ThinkWater II, as they are helpful for distilling complex sets of ideas into manageable and attractive formats, as well as ideal for spreading via social media. Our "Three Things Systems Thinkers Do" poster is intended to distill the 4 simple rules of systems thinking and illustrate their application in combination. In short, it's a "how-to guide" for systems thinking. Objective 2: Demonstration States In our first year of ThinkWater II, we developed a comprehensive strategy to implement ThinkWater in Wisconsin. Our Wisconsin ThinkWater Coordinator met with potential partners to identify needs in the state and worked with partners to begin integrating systems thinking into their water education and outreach programs. Programs and partners with whom we've met and consulted included the University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute, Milwaukee Water Commons, The Water Council, UW-Milwaukee School for Freshwater Studies, Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, STEMHero, Wisconsin Environmental Education Foundation, Yahara 2070 Project, North Central Region Water Network, and county-based Extension colleagues.We obtained an external grant, which enabled us to form the Wisconsin Water Thinkers Network (WWTN), including establishing a leadership team. Working with the leadership team, the WWTN kick-off event has been planned and announced. The kick-off event will be held at the beginning of year 2 (March 15, 2016). Sixty to 70 attendees are expected at the event. Following the kick off, a series of virtual meetings are planned to strengthen the network and create opportunities for critical dialogue about systems thinking based water education and research.We have generalized from our Wisconsin experiences to begin planning and creating a toolkit of instructions and online resources for ThinkWater implementation in any US state or geographic region. GRANTS To supplement our statewide ThinkWater initiative in Wisconsin, our ThinkWater Coordinator secured the "Building the Wisconsin Water Thinkers Network" grant for $9846 from the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board. The grant period is January 1 - December 31, 2016. Objective 3: National Fellows After seeking input from our national advisors and other Water Research Institute directors, about the specific demographic we should target for a national fellows program, we decided to hold the inaugural year of the ThinkWater Fellows program at Cornell University (for graduate students, post-docs, and professors). The request for applications has been disseminated and the online application is available. Fellows will be chosen and announced in March 2016.There are four priority areas for this year: drought and climate change; surface/groundwater interactions; nutrient management; and the food-water-energy nexus. We anticipate selecting 10 fellows for the first cohort, which will run from March through November, 2016, culminating in a Systems Thinking and Water conference at Cornell, and case studies documenting the Fellows Program. Objective 4: Outreach and Marketing Campaign See separate field for reach of audience Objective 5: Systems Evaluation EVALUATION RESEARCH Project Wet AZ Pilot Study -This study is designed to determine the most effective way to develop proficiency in systems thinking concepts and tools through educating instructors, who then reach a large number of students.. Initial evaluation has been conducted on the teacher professional development; evaluation to be conducted on student learning in spring 2016.

Publications

  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Accepted Year Published: 2015 Citation: Cabrera, D, Cabrera, L, Powers, E. (2015.) A unifying theory of systems thinking with psychosocial applications. Systems Research and Behavioral Science. 32(5): 534-545.
  • Type: Other Status: Published Year Published: 2016 Citation: Solin, J. (2016). Water Education: Cultivating Water Thinking. Blog for the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, Waters of Wisconsin Initiative. http://www.wisconsinacademy.org/blog/waters-wisconsin/water-education-cultivating-water-thinking.
  • Type: Other Status: Published Year Published: 2015 Citation: Solin, J. (2015) ThinkWater: Better Thinking to Sustain Our Waters. Blog for Yahara 2070 Project. https://yaharawsc.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/thinkwater-better-thinking-to-sustain-our-waters/
  • Type: Websites Status: Published Year Published: 2015 Citation: www.thinkwater.us