Project Information

The Community Discussion Forum, as part of the Inclusive Conservation research project, focuses on engaging community members in discussions about landscape change in the Denali region. This information sheet summarizes our goals for the discussion forum. The projected timeline for this program is the Winter of 2020-2021.

During the meet and greet a few residents expressed that they would like to see a copy of the questionnaire. Please see below if you are interested!

Why are we conducting this research?

The purpose of this program is to understand how online discussions facilitate learning about the environment amongst community members living around Denali National Park and Preserve. Participation in the discussion forum will give residents the opportunity to learn from one another by exchanging ideas about public land management and landscape change in the Denali region. Findings from the discussions will be shared with community members and decision-makers at the local, state, and federal levels. Our team is drawing on two years of previous research with community members in Interior Alaska to build a longitudinal understanding of how the region is characterized, as well as people’s values, attitudes, and preferences for the future. The goal is that the dialog residents engage in during the discussion forum will be used as a bridge for community members and decision-makers to help shape the future of the Denali region. This study is guided by local partnerships, particularly an Executive Committee that is helping us understand the priorities and interests of people living in the Denali region:

Who is participating in the community discussion forum?

We will draw our sample from respondents of the Interior Alaska survey who indicated they would like to participate in additional online discussions regarding their perspectives for the Denali region. We plan to recruit people initially through an email and/or a follow-up phone call, depending on their preferred form of contact. If the resident agrees to participate, they will then receive an informed consent document so they understand, and agree to, the details of the research they will be participating in. We aim to recruit residents to reflect the diverse perspectives and communities of the Denali region.

What is the structure of the community discussion forum?

We will kick off the Community Discussion Forum by hosting virtual focus groups for all participants. The purpose of the initial focus group will be to allow participants to get to know each other and build relationships prior to starting the online program. We will then start the 4-week program using a private WordPress site. The online forum will be based on a method that uses information from previous discussions to build up knowledge and understand community consensus. Every week we will summarize the information that has been previously shared by residents and ask them to reflect on the discussion summary to reinforce learning and to verify that our summary aligned with the resident’s perspectives to share with decision-makers in the region.

The proposed topics of the 4-week discussion are as follows:

  • Week 1: Residents will discuss benefits provided by Denali landscape and concerns for future change that threaten these benefits.
  • Week 2: Residents will discuss what management practices should be prioritized to address the benefits and threats identified in Week 1.
  • Week 3: Residents will be asked to discuss how their own values versus the values of their community may influence management practices.
  • Week 4: Residents will be asked to discuss how learning through community discussions may be used to improve protected area management.

Participants will be encouraged to respond to the prompts, as well as post at least three comments to respond to the other residents. At the end of the program, we will host a webinar to share findings, gather feedback, and request that participants retake the initial questionnaire they completed in the summer of 2020.

What are the benefits of being involved?

Access will be provided to the results that emerge from our research, which may inform local and regional policy and planning. Involvement in the forum will also provide opportunities for knowledge-sharing and exchange between different organizations, as well as networking through discussions about the opportunities and constraints facing protected area management. Participation will be critically important for keeping research with communities around Denali National Park and Preserve transparent, relevant, and effective. Participants will also receive monetary incentives ($50 to participate in the online forum and $50 to retake the survey at the end of the discussion).

How do I find out more information about ongoing research in the Denali region?

For more information, go to or

Project leaders

Riley Andrade, Post-doctoral Research Fellow

University of Illinois, 602-703-2652,

Carena van Riper, Assistant Professor

University of Illinois, 217-244-9317,

William Stewart, Professor

University of Illinois, 217-244-4532,

Research staff, students, and collaborators

Dana Johnson, Research Assistant

Evan Salcido, Research Assistant

Ruth Colianni, Research Technician

Erik Johnson, National Park Service

Amy Craver, National Park Service

Rose Keller, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research