Grassland 2.0 Digital Dialogue Series

Grassland 2.0 once again hosted our free Digital Dialogue series this fall!

The Digital Dialogue is a free webinar series about making transformational agroecological change to our rural landscapes. Each series includes four to five sessions featuring experts on a certain theme central to agroecological landscape change. Professors, farmers, researchers, and scientists throughout the country have been invited to share their experience and perspective at Digital Dialogue. The featured guest generally presents for 45-minutes, followed by a 45-minute Q&A session. 

Aerial view of a stream running into a river

If you are interested in re-envisioning agriculture and the processes that make land-use change possible, this is a great opportunity to learn and connect!

In 2021, we kicked off the series with the question: What are healthy agroecosystems? In spring 2022, we asked: What are the levers of agroecological change? This fall we focused on a new question that is near and dear to our Grassland 2.0 work: How does place-making impede or facilitate socio-ecological change?

Place-making is the social, political, and material processes that construct places over time at varying scales of resolution (i.e., sites, regions, nations). Our Digital Dialogue guests discussed how we shape places and in turn how those collectively developed places influence our individual and group behavior.

The series kicked off on Tuesday, October 4th from 12-1:30 PM CT with an overview of place-making from Dr. Dan Williams, Senior Research Social Scientist with the Rocky Mountain Research Station of the U.S. Forest Service. Dr. Williams discussed how places are created across spatial scales, and how place-making can help close the knowledge-practice gap as we work toward agriculture that provides for our wants and needs today, while building capacity for future generations to do the same. View the recording of Dr. Williams talk here. Dr. Williams has also provided a reading list of materials he referenced in his talk which can be found here.

Our second Digital Dialogue was Tuesday, October 18th from 12:00-1:30PM CT and featured Dr. Elena Bennett, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Sustainability Science at McGill University (and UW-Madison alumna!), for a conversation on people, nature, and ecosystem services and the role of place-making in conservation and science.

Elena Bennett introduced ResNet, a pan-Canadian project that spans six place-based working landscape projects to develop an Ecosystem Services Observatory Network for Canada. You can watch a recording of Dr. Bennett’s talk here where she discusses how ResNet is using place-based science to answer partner questions, improve scientific understanding of ecosystem services, and contribute to Canada’s Census of Environment.

On Tuesday November 1st from 12-1:30PM CT Mae Davenport, Professor in the Department of Forest Resources and Director of the Center for Changing Landscapes at the University of Minnesota in Twin Cities, joined us to discuss an exciting new research collaborative. In her presentation – Gathering Stories: Protecting Manoomin/Psin (Wild Rice) and Food Sovereignty Through Cultural Exchange – Dr. Davenport discussed her work on wild rice stewardship. Mae shared stories from across the research collaborative led out of the University of Minnesota about protecting wild rice and food sovereignty through cultural exchange and learning. Watch the recording here.

The final Digital Dialogue of the fall took place on Tuesday, December 6th and featured Dennis Olson, Senior Research Associate, Food and Agriculture Policy an the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union. Dennis discussed, “Rebuilding the US Cattle Herd: An Imperative Climate Mitigation Strategy and a Just Transition for Packinghouse Workers“. Check out this story from the Wisconsin Examiner on Dennis’ talk or you can watch the full recording on our YouTube channel.

Each speaker this fall explored place-based conservation, recognizing that transformational landscape change occurs within social-ecological contexts.

We will be offering the Digital Dialogues again in the spring of 2023 focusing on the Grassland 2.0 Learning Hubs. Be sure to check-back for more information!