Colorado Public Forum Simulation
How do scientific research and the perspectives of Coloradans affect decisions about wolf reintroductions?
Perspectives, perceptions, and science weave together when making decisions about reintroducing wolves into the mountains of western Colorado. In UNCOVER, we examined the balance between perceptions and scientific facts about wolves. This sets the stage for examining citizens' diverse perspectives.
In this simulation of a Colorado Public Forum on the wolf reintroduction, you will ask:
- What do people with various livelihoods, lifestyles, and experiences say about the wolf reintroduction? How would they respond to this question: Can a managed wolf reintroduction program restore the balance of Colorado’s mountain ecosystems without significantly and negatively impacting human activities and livelihoods?
- What do people living in different parts of the state - Western Slope/Mountains/Front Range/Eastern Plains, urban/rural, North/Central/South - say about a wolf reintroduction?
- Why are they concerned or supportive?
You and your classmates will set aside your personal perspectives and take on roles that represent various Colorado citizen perspectives about wolf reintroduction. As you participate, it is helpful to remember that ecological issues are complex and may not have perfect solutions. The proposal to reintroduce wolves into Colorado’s Rocky Mountains conjures up citizen’s emotions, opinions, knowledge about wolves, and stories and experiences related to the animal. These all influence a person’s perspective, or point of view, about bringing the wolf back. Success will involve honoring these diverse perspectives, evaluating alternatives, finding creative solutions, and compromising on an outcome that is best for all.
Review the Differences Between Perceptions, Scientific Facts, and Perspectives
A critical part of informed decision-making is understanding and empathizing with different perspectives, or points of view, of citizens across Colorado who might be impacted by wolf reintroduction. What perceptions, scientific facts, and perspectives have influenced their positions on wolf reintroduction?
Before jumping into the Colorado debate, let’s take a moment to review the differences between these three influences. Write the key words or phrases that describe each term. Then write a sentence or two giving an example of how each could influence a citizen’s position about wolf reintroduction.
Research Your Citizen's Perspective On Wolves in Colorado
Twelve citizen perspectives from across Colorado are described on role cards. Click on the "Role Cards" button to download. You can also click on each role box below to read the citizen's position. Many positions are similar to Yellowstone citizen statements. Two Moderator role cards are included.
Ute, Cheyenne, Navajo, Arapaho, Jicarilla Apache
Research your citizen's position on this question: Can a managed wolf reintroduction program restore the balance of Colorado’s mountain ecosystems without significantly and negatively impacting human activities and livelihoods?
- Choose a role card. Make sure your role is unfamiliar to you or different from your own perspective. If you want experience running a meeting like this, consider being the Moderator! Depending on the size of your class, two people might get the same citizen card.
- Read and gather supporting evidence to prepare for explaining and defending your citizen group’s perspective at the forum. You are responsible for representing this citizen group at the forum. The card statement is your starting point for building your citizen arguments.
- Read this overview article, focusing on the sections describing arguments for and against wolf reintroduction. Determine where your citizen position fits into these arguments:
What you need to know about a ballot effort to bring wolves back to Colorado from The Colorado Independent, December 10, 2019.
- Gather additional relevant information by reviewing UNCOVER’s perceptions and science pages, reading articles listed in Articles: Perspectives Across Colorado (above), researching other digital or paper resources, or talking with people in your community who have your citizen perspective or lifestyle. The articles will also help you become more familiar with other perspectives that you will hear at the forum. If you do not see your role included in Articles: Perspectives Across Colorado, find information about your citizen perspective in the list under General or Multiple Perspectives.
- For Moderators: Become familiar with all the perspectives on the citizen statement cards, reading general articles listed in “Articles: Perspectives Across Colorado.” Then look over the Call to Order, and talk with your teacher about how to run the forum.
- Organize your notes for easy reference during the Public Forum. Remember to write down the sources of your information so you can refer to them if needed.
Identify the Ecosystem Benefits to Colorado Citizens
Recall what you learned about ecosystem services in Yellowstone and apply it to Colorado. Ecosystem services are the many benefits that nature provides to people and society. These benefits include, but are not limited to, clean water and air, crop pollination and nutritious food, and nutrient-rich soil and erosion protection. Ecosystems also provide recreational, cultural, and spiritual benefits.
Resources describing ecosystem services:
- How might the ecosystem services offered by the reintroduction area affect your decision?
- What would be helpful to know about the ecosystem services offered by potential wolf reintroduction areas in western Colorado mountains?
Prepare your Statement for the Public Forum
"I support reintroducing wolves into Colorado."
"I do not support reintroducing wolves into Colorado."
What’s your position and why? Prepare a 1-2 minute presentation explaining your citizen’s position on the wolf reintroduction and the reasons for supporting this position. Use the arguments collected from your research. You can organize your presentation in a short paragraph, a concept map, or 2-column notes.
Participate in the Public Forum
The forum allows citizens to weigh in on this question:
Can a managed wolf reintroduction program restore the balance of Colorado’s mountain ecosystems without significantly and negatively impacting human activities and livelihoods?
Follow these protocols. The teacher and student moderator will facilitate the meeting.
- The public forum will have a moderator and one spokesperson for each citizen group. If there are enough students to have two representing each perspective, you have the option of splitting the class and running two smaller forums.
- Arrange the forum chairs or desks in a circle.
- All citizen presenters must sign in on the presenter list. Write your name and citizen group next to a number. This will set the order for citizen presentations. (If two people are speaking for the same citizen group, they have the option of presenting together.)
- Moderator, you will run the forum by calling the meeting to order (instructions below), reviewing the norms, stating the question that is being discussed (above), and facilitating presentations and questions.
- The teacher will let you know the maximum length of time for a presentation, and assign a timer to monitor presentation length.
- Be ready to introduce yourself by saying your name and who you are (citizen group). Remember - from this point on, you completely assume the citizen’s role and attitudes, even if your role is contrary to your personal perspective.
- The moderator will let you know when it is your turn to speak. The timer will let you know when your time is up (usually 1-2 minutes). If you run out of time, you can finish your sentence or thought before stopping.
- Listen with intention to the other citizen presentations, taking notes about their arguments for or against the reintroduction. You can use the handout "Notes from Colorado Public Forum” or create your own.
- After all presentations have been given, the moderator (with teacher assistance as needed) will open the floor for questions or additional arguments. Be ready to ask or answer questions related to the citizen perspective you represent.
Reflect on the Public Forum
- How did the citizen perspective you represented compare with your personal views? (Moderators can talk about the role of maintaining empathy and being open-minded when talking about a controversial topic.)
- What did you learn about yourself as you researched and presented the citizen’s view? (Moderators can talk about researching the diverse perspectives.)
- How did portraying this role affect your personal views on wolves?
- What might you want the teacher to know about your preparation and participation in the forum?
- My favorite part was ____
- My best work was _____
- If I could do this again, I would change _____
- If I could do this again, I would improve _____