A Web Portal to Span the Public and Agency Divide: HD.gov 2.0, Communities of Practice, and Human Dimensions Research regarding Natural Resource Management

Date of Presentation


Name of Conference

Conference on Communication and Environment

Date of Conference


Location of Conference

Boulder, CO

Document Type

Conference Presentation


Communications and Performance Studies


Shortly after the turn of the century, a consortium of agencies associated with environmental protection and management of natural resources began focusing on the need to coordinate their efforts regarding human dimensions social science research and application. That initiative, most prominently spearheaded by Department of the Interior administrators, gave rise to HD.gov—a powerful web portal providing public access to federal agency sponsored social science resources, research, and gray literature. Originally housed at NOAA, HD.gov was launched in 2007 and incorporated a state-of-the-art, metadata-based content management system that allowed natural resource managers, environmental communication agents, and the lay public to efficiently identify and obtain human dimensions research reports, databases, legal information, and analytic tools relevant to natural resources management. Today, the USGS Fort Collins Science Center hosts the website thereby providing a credible, reliable human dimensions portal that connects two distinct communities: those who develop social science information and tools, and the natural resource managers who need that information to better serve the public interest. Overall, HD.gov represents a collaboration of government, academic and nongovernmental organizations that enables partners to submit, peer review, and distribute social science content to the larger society.

Released in May 2014, version 2 of HD.gov builds on its traditional foundation by providing two new key features. First, the website now implements an enterprise-class content management framework, improving security and expanding the content lifecycle management features formerly available to users. Second, HD.gov 2.0 expands the content management options to include human dimensions sub-venues for partner agencies and communities of practice. Through these sub-venues, partner agencies and communities of practice can more effectively collaborate within their research teams, as well as better communicate and distribute their agency’s human dimensions products outside of their research circles. Both innovations were an organic product of our ongoing efforts to solicit feedback from the larger natural resource science and management public. These endeavors, facilitated by HD.gov 2.0 and managed by an interagency executive committee, provide fodder for the COCE presentation we are proposing.

The first part of our conference presentation will include information about HD.gov's purpose, history, and key features of the current content management system. The second part of the presentation will revolve around the development of and dynamics attending various partner and community of practice forums. Special emphasis will be placed upon examining the extent to which web-based collaborations can be used to improve channels of environmental communication within and between governmental agencies, as well as the benefits such forums have for public outreach and participation.

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