Integrating Menominee model for sustainable forestry with Systems Thinking competency through 3D virtual tours

Ellie Nasr-Azadani, Erica A.H. Smithwick, Stuart J. Steidle, Melissa S. Lucash, Denice H. Wardrop, Nathan T. Fregien, Thomas R. Kenote

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sustainability competencies enable planners, the public, local communities, academics, and development practitioners to address environmental challenges, better envision the future and devise practical solutions. A key competency in this framework is Systems Thinking, allowing individuals to think comprehensively at different temporal and spatial scales. Among all interested groups, local and Indigenous communities play a significant role in preserving the sustainability of the natural environment and co-producing knowledge based on traditional ecological knowledge. Hence, new approaches are needed to integrate traditional ecological values into competency-based practices to articulate problems and related solutions. This project introduces place-based scenarios rooted in conventional forest management concerning two identified subsets of Bloom’s Taxonomy, Remembering and Understanding, including some competencies necessary for thinking systemically. Overall, 57 participants, including students and staff of the College of Menominee Nation and Menominee community members, in northeast Wisconsin, USA, randomly experienced two visual tools with the same information presented as either: a website with simple 2D images or a 3D virtual tour to investigate which visualization method can help better articulate systems, their components, and behaviors. Participants answered two kinds of questionnaires based on either cognitive mapping or reflection on place-based scenarios. The results show that 3D virtual tour users better demonstrated proficiency in Remembering and Understanding compared to users who experienced the 2D website. Our results thus highlight the potential for 3D virtual experiences to enable sustainability competencies. However, given the observed differences among age and educational groups, future visualization tools and associated research methods should attend to audiences’ competencies, preferences, and comfort, especially among older age groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2605-2628
Number of pages24
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Health(social science)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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