Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Forestry (MS)

College, School or Department Name

School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


Kathleen E. Halvorsen


Much of the research in the field of participatory modeling (PM) has focused on the developed world. Few cases are focused on developing regions, and even fewer on Latin American developing countries. The work that has been done in Latin America has often involved water management, often specifically involving water users, and has not focused on the decision making stage of the policy cycle. Little work has been done to measure the effect PM may have on the perceptions and beliefs of decision makers. In fact, throughout the field of PM, very few attempts have been made to quantitatively measure changes in participant beliefs and perceptions following participation. Of the very few exceptions, none have attempted to measure the long-term change in perceptions and beliefs. This research fills that gap.

As part of a participatory modeling project in Sonora, Mexico, a region with water quantity and quality problems, I measured the change in beliefs among participants about water models: ability to use and understand them, their usefulness, and their accuracy. I also measured changes in beliefs about climate change, and about water quantity problems, specifically the causes, solutions, and impacts. I also assessed participant satisfaction with the process and outputs from the participatory modeling workshops. Participants were from water agencies, academic institutions, NGOs, and independent consulting firms. Results indicated that participant comfort and self-efficacy with water models, their beliefs in the usefulness of water models, and their beliefs about the impact of water quantity problems changed significantly as a result of the workshops. I present my findings and discuss the results.