Facilitation of Community Modelling (CM) projects involves practical and communications tasks, such as finding a suitable venue and making sure that all participants receive the information they need to take part.


The Facilitator manages the use of time in each session and organises the communication amongst participants between sessions. Together with the Modeller the Facilitator makes sure that the activities maintain a sense of purpose and that the overall aim is kept in sight.

Facilitation can be done by anyone with adequate organisational skills, who is willing to stand back and not engage with the modelling in the sessions, but make sure that everybody contributes. The Facilitator must also be able to gather background information that can support the creation of knowledge by the group.

If you consider taking on the role of Facilitator, the following instructions provide a clearer picture of what you will be doing.





It is the Facilitator's responsibility to create an initial overview of the local situation. This is best done by talking to local residents and reviewing debates in the local media. Some training in qualitative social science methodology is needed to carry out, interpret and present interviews and document studies in a way that is useful to the group.


The Facilitator needs to consider which organisation or group will be Custodians of the model after the project is completed. If the initiative to use CM comes from a volunteer organisation, like a Rivers Trust, that organisation could be the Custodian. However, if the initiator is a local council, or another formal agency, a non-political local Custodian needs to be identified.


The composition of CM groups depends on the partner organisation. For example, Rivers Trusts have local volunteers who can become involved. In contrast, if the partner is a local authority, local group members must be recruited in a way that is independent from the political parties, which requires the Facilitator to take on a more active role in the recruitment process.


The Facilitator could also be the one who recruits a Modeller. A person with the required computer modelling skills could be identified via a local environmental organisation, or a local Catchment Partnership. Another possibility is to recruit a modeller via a university outreach programme. A CM project could be of interest to research students in Geography or Environmental Science. It is also possible to commission a technical consultant to work with the Facilitator and the local participants in a CM project; many scientists and engineers would find such a project interesting to get involved with.



Facilitating the process

Before each session the Facilitator must organise a time and venue and make contact with all participants. The Facilitator should agree a preliminary agenda for the first session with the Modeller, to make sure all relevant issues are covered in the time allocated.



Session 1

The Facilitator opens the session; initiates introductions; gives an overview of the rationales for CM in this locality and hands over to the Modeller. A discussion of the issue may then be pursued. The Facilitator must ensure that everybody's questions and comments are heard. In the final part of the session the Facilitator directs the group's attention towards a discussion of what they want to do with the model; what will happen in Session 2 and which information must be gathered and circulated before then.



Between Sessions

The Facilitator should again arrange a venue, coordinate participants and also ensure that any agreed exchange of information takes place in a timely manner. If the group wants minutes from the sessions to keep a record of the technical content and new ideas, it will also be the responsibility of the facilitator to provide this.



Sessions 2 and 3

The Facilitator opens the session and hands over to the Modeller. During these sessions the key task is time keeping, making sure that there will be sufficient time to do the things planned. Finally the Facilitator brings the activities to a close, thanks everybody and makes sure that the next step in the process is clearly understood. It is also important that the group considers whether a fourth meeting will be needed to achieve the CM aims.



Before the final session

Again, the Facilitator organises the venue and the participants. The Facilitator and the Modeller must agree a handover process of the model and the outputs to the participants, including the designated Custodians, during the final meeting. If the Facilitator has agreed to prepare any supplementary materials to support the local participants’ ability to continue to use of the model, this needs to be planned before the final session. This is also a good time for the Facilitator to reflect upon the planning and management process, and note down any recommendations for future projects.



After the final session

The Facilitator finalises the bespoke local model user’s manual together with the Modeller and delivers it to the local Custodians and group members. The user’s manual may take the form of video tutorials, or screenshots of the model interface with comments, or an audio recorded slide presentation. Over time the work in the sessions will have made clear what form of support is required to make sure that the local participants can continue to use the model after the project ends.


Completing the Facilitator involvement is a report of the activities for addition to the CM website case study archive, to make it available as an example to future groups.


This website is published a team of human geography researchers in the School of Geography and the Environment at University of Oxford.

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