Columbia River Documentary Project

A River Loved: Facilitating Cooperative Negotiation of Transboundary Water Resource Management in the Columbia River Basin through Documentary Film

In transboundary water resources policy and management situations, such as the governance of the Columbia River Basin, complex social, ecological, and economic factors seem to be in irreconcilable competition with one another.  However, cooperative negotiation (i.e. collaboration) provides an outlet for entities and stakeholders to “expand the pie” and develop creative alternatives for integrated, resilient management.

The goal of this study was to test a carefully crafted “facilitative” documentary film as a facilitation tool to promote dialogue, understanding, and creative scenario development amongst parties in the Columbia River Basin.  The study has three main components:

  1. The resilience and learning analysis of the case study (the Columbia River Treaty) policy situation,
  2. The creation of a facilitative film featuring interviews with diverse stakeholders in the basin, and
  3. The qualitative and quantitative assessment of the effects of the film in the collaboration process

The film, A River Loved: A film about the Columbia River and the people invested in its future, premiered at the Universities Consortium Symposium on Columbia River Governance- an informal forum for dialogue held in Kimberley, British Columbia in October 2011.  I measured participants’ reactions to the film:

  • Over 90% of people who watched the film reported that they understood other parties better.
  • Over 90% said they felt others who watch the film will understand their interests better.
  • Around 70% of participants brainstormed or refined an idea for Columbia River management while watching the film.

These results show that the film helped people to understand one another better. In addition, it facilitated dialogue and creative scenario development. Considering these encouraging results, I concluded that facilitative documentary films have great potential to transform complex, multi-stakeholder social-ecological policy situations!

I did this project for my Master’s thesis at Oregon State University under Dr. Aaron Wolf. Please contact me if you would like more information!

Check out this prezi explaining my project in more detail:

Film as a Facilitation Tool in the Columbia River Basin


One thought on “Columbia River Documentary Project

  1. Pingback: Welcome! | JULIE ELKINS WATSON

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