PECS #46: Learning, participation, and power in the case of the Arizona Housing Supply Study Committee with Eve Castille

Many governance challenges facing our cities and states are complex, with no clear best solution. Legislative bodies, nevertheless, must assess the issues and solutions to inform public policy. The collective learning framework, developed by Heikkila and Gerlak, examines how groups acquire, translate, and disseminate knowledge within the policy process. We build on the framework by investigating how the learning process is shaped by participation and power. We investigate whether the number of stakeholders and how they participate corresponds with their focal topics appearing in the process output, a report. We analyze participation in collective learning using the case of housing supply legislation in Arizona. Specifically, we examine the transcripts of the 2022 Arizona Housing Supply Study Committee, a legislative committee that met with multi-level, multi-sector stakeholders for six months in 2022 to describe the housing supply challenges in Arizona and identify potential solutions. The process included developers, public officials, landlords, realtors, funders, and non-profits at city, county, state, and national jurisdictional levels. Our results indicate that while participation may be one factor influencing the outcomes of a collective learning process, there are likely other factors. Contrary to what we expected to find, our findings suggest that the committee members did not use their positional influence to include their focal topics. Our results and methods are an initial step toward explaining how power and participation shape learning in the policy process.

Eve is an experienced researcher, facilitator, network coordinator, and program manager passionate about the governance of complex systems undergoing change. Her research examines how power shapes learning in complex governance systems. She has developed qualitative and quantitative methodologies to analyze power as a functional aspect of governance systems. Her research explores urban and rural cases, including lake and watershed management in the north-central U.S. and housing supply and allocation in Arizona, U.S. She has recently earned her PhD in Sustainability from Arizona State University and is looking for a postdoctoral research position to build on this research by developing a theory of power as a functional dynamic in governance transformations of multi-scale, multi-sector systems towards equity and sustainability.