Kearney Environmental

Understanding People


Kearney Environmental helps organizations learn about client and customer perceptions, attitudes, preferences, and behavior.

There are three questions your organization must be able to answer -

What exactly do you mean?

Confusion over what people mean by concepts such as "sustainability," "community character," or "healthy environment" (to name a few) can lead to miscommunication and derail projects. Kearney Environmental can help people articulate their own perspectives, understand the perspectives of others, and identify areas of overlap and potential conflict. Case Study

Starting in the 1990s, many forest stakeholders in the Pacific Northwest began to embrace the concept of "ecosystem management." During meetings and discussion, however, the U.S. Forest Service began to realize there was little consensus on what the term actually meant.

The Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station funded Dr. Kearney to assess the perspectives of a range of forest stakeholders. Using cognitive mapping, a spectrum of perspectives emerged and areas of overlap and divergence among stakeholder groups were identified. Forest Service staff used these data to identify areas of potential conflict, dispel some common stereotypes, and facilitate discussion and collaboration.

Do you realize who you're dealing with?

Understanding the attitudes, preferences, and needs of clients and stakeholders is a critical part of project and policy design, acceptance, and ultimate success. Kearney Environmental can measure these human dimensions both within and outside your organization to increase your understanding of all stakeholders, including staff, clients, and customers. Case Study

When the Tahoe Regional Planning Authority (TRPA) introduced the Scenic Review Ordinance, the intent was to provide development guidelines in order to preserve the Lake Tahoe basin's visual quality for the common good. The flurry of controversy and eventual lawsuit that followed, however, made it clear that many felt their attitudes and preferences were not accounted for in the ordinance. TRPA realized that more information was needed about public perceptions and scenic values.

Dr. Anne Kearney and a team of researchers designed and implemented a study of the attitudes and preferences of the basin's primary stakeholder groups, including property owners, members of local environmental groups, and tourists. The results, which showed an overall high level of agreement among stakeholder groups in terms of the types of development they would like to see in the basin, surprised many. TRPA is using these findings as support for the basic tenants of the ordinance and to help move groups from entrenched positions toward common ground.

So, how's that going for you?

Kearney Environmental partners with organizations to design, implement, and analyze evaluations of projects and programs. In addition, we work with organization staff to implement systems for on-going staff-run evaluation. Case Study

IslandWood, a residential environmental education center on Bainbridge Island, Washington, worked with Kearney Environmental to determine how their week-long school overnight program affects students.

Kearney Environmental's research showed that the program resulted in significant increases in students' level of cooperative teamwork back in the classroom, sense of environmental stewardship, and environmental knowledge. The research also showed that students had a richer conceptualization of healthy environments following the program, but that they had not fully integrated new concepts into their existing knowledge.

IslandWood staff are using these data to revise and strengthen their educational programming, develop marketing materials, and showcase innovative evaluation tools for other environmental education organizations.

About Anne Kearney, Principal

Dr. Anne Kearney has over 15 years of experience in environmental psychology and social science research. She uses both qualitative and quantitative methods to explore human perceptions, attitudes, preferences, and behaviors and employs a variety of tools, including interviews, surveys, photo-questionnaires, and cognitive mapping (a research tool that leads to a physical representation of people's thoughts and perspectives).

Dr. Kearney holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Psychology and an M.S. in Resource Policy and Behavior, both from the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment, and a B.A. in Psychology (Cogntive Science) from Stanford University. She is an affiliate faculty member at the University of Washington, consults in the private and non-profit sectors, and has published in numerous academic journals.