By John Callewaert
When to advocate and when to be an honest broker is a question that deserves serious attention by those working on collaborative and engaged research initiatives. In my role as the Integrated Assessment director at the University of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute I facilitate a wide array of collaborative research efforts. For most of our initiatives we strive to work within an honest broker frame. Following the work of Pielke (2007), the honest broker engages in decision-making by clarifying and sometimes expanding the scope of choice to decision-makers. Our recent analysis of options for High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing in Michigan (fracking) and outlining sustainability goals for our Ann Arbor campus are two examples which involved teams of faculty, students, practitioners and decision-makers.
The honest broker approach was particularly important for the project on fracking given the polarized views that can sometimes be associated with this topic.