Natural Praxis is a place to explore practical philosophy as it relates to the environment, science and technology and politics. This project is a place for these ideas to interact and hopefully produce some new perspectives.

mansonphoto2This blog is published by Paul Manson, a PhD student in the Public Affairs and Policy program in the Hatfield School of Government. He is also a fellow in the NSF funded Integrated Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) on Ecosystem Services for Urbanizing Regions (ESUR). His academic work is divided between a scholarship on the role of models, spatial tools, and technology in participatory governance efforts, and applied practitioner support through participation in regional environmental planning processes.

Paul’s research is at the intersection of political sociology, science and technology studies, and organizational theory. His dissertation research is focused on the multi-year Oregon Territorial Sea Plan update – a marine spatial planning effort to resolve conflicts among many ocean users via a technologically mediate participatory GIS system. Key questions from this research are: How interests and values develop in group and organizational settings when individuals are aggregated with technological mediations of their interest? In other words, when required to represent interests spatially, are other dimensions of interest or identity lost or gained? How are joint identities formed or lost with these tools? What are the organizational or institutional contingencies that shape the adoption of technologies such as these? This research has required multi-level theorization to understand the interactional level processes that make meaning on the maps, and the organizational level processes that structure and distribute power in the system.

As an applied policy researcher Paul has been developing participatory decision support tools and methods that combine and synthesize expert opinion and community preferences. Most recently, Paul worked with local coastal communities to produce a participatory visual resource inventory for the ocean. This allowed for a convergence of his scholarly research with applied research. Paul has a BA in Anthropology from Reed College, and an MPA from PSU. For his undergraduate work, Paul conducted ethnological fieldwork in Arctic Alaska with two Iñupiat communities. This research was an examination of the landscape-based semiotics in developing cultural narratives and social identities, and their role in present day governance. His graduate work included a broad set of studies across geography and economics along with public administration to include marine policy issues and ecosystem services into his MPA.

Find Paul on Twitter as @paulonabike.

Data, Links and Resources

Much of my research relies on some great public and university data tools.

One of my favorites is the US Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics dataset. This allows for the mapping and analysis of places of residence and work for employees. It can create “commute-shed” and is helpful in disaster planning, transportation planning and land use analysis.

Another great resource is the geocoding service provided by Texas A&M Geoservices. It is a easy to use tool to batch geocode addresses and receive X-Y coordinates to allow for analysis with other spatial data.

Links, Privacy and Other Details

I am avoiding using ads to support this site. But links to books will take you to Powell’s Bookstore here in Portland, Oregon. Purchases through those links support this site.

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