Article written by Bethany B. Cuttsa, 2008 DPDF Critical Studies of Science & Technology Policy Fellow Tischa A. Muñoz-Erickson, and Shade T. Shutters, featured in Society & Natural Resources:
To better accomplish their mission of an informed public, environmental education organizations often exchange ideas, share financing, and distribute overhead through collaboration. Yet it remains to be seen whether benefits of these collaborations extend to the public. We examine two possible benefits: the ability of the organizations to act as representatives of the public interest, and equitable access to environmental educational materials. We model patterns of public access to water-related education across organizations using two surveys in metropolitan Phoenix, AZ. This enables the study of interorganizational social networks and public outcomes. Results support the idea that environmental education organizations could provide a credible proxy for direct citizen participation. However, not all organizations are equivalently engaged with historically underrepresented groups like women, minority racial and ethnic groups, and those who rent their home. The implications for more inclusive environmental policy decisions are discussed.