About

Organised reasoning

Organised reasoning

During 2019, with the assistance of EIANZ Divisions and Chapters, the SIS-IA ran a series of workshops titled: ‘More effective impact assessment: Tools for stronger argument and clearer writing’. The workshop shared two sets of tools collectively called ‘Organised Reasoning’. The first provided a structured sequence of steps to help organise thinking and arguments in impact assessment. The second showed how to better present arguments in the written text of documents.

What is Organised Reasoning?

The development of an impact assessment document, whether by a proponent or a regulator, involves many decisions, and each decision involves a reasoning process. Reasoning within assessments requires making arguments—that is, identifying and organising reasons so they lead to a specific conclusion. Organised reasoning is the process of preparing and creating arguments (Brown et al, 2017).

Assessments are complex documents and using the tools of argument can make them easier for audiences to understand. And easier for authors to write!

‘Organised Reasoning’ is a collection of ideas and tools assembled from a variety of sources (formal and informal logic, psychology, prose composition, speech communication, rhetoric and decision analysis, among others).


Who developed Organised Reasoning?


Organised reasoning was developed by Dr Glenn Brown from Canada. Dr Brown has over 25 years of experience as an ecologist and educator specialising in environmental management. He has worked on environmental projects for industry, government and non-governmental organisations in Canada and other countries and as an academic. He currrently works as an independent consultant.

Dr Brown has delivered courses on ‘Organised Reasoning’ at International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) conferences from 2015, including at IAIA19 in Brisbane. He has also provided the course through the IAIA affiliate in Western Canada and in China and Iceland. In 2019, through EIANZ, he delivered workshops to over 200 attendees across 11 cities in Australia and New Zealand.

More information about Glenn is at www.glennbrown.ca.

Organised reasoning resources

The SIS-IA will be expanding this site with links to examples of using organised reasoning in impact assessment documents in Australia and New Zealand, as they are developed. In the meantime, the following links will provide useful information:

Introduction to organised reasoning:

Click here to view

Materials prepared by Dr Glenn Brown for IAIA Conferences:

Click here to view

Mackenzie Valley Review Board – Report of Environmental Assessment and Reasons for Decision, Jay Project:

Click here to view

Alan Erlich, Mackenzie Valley Review Board | Review Board’s experience with Organized Reasoning and the Ekati Diamond Mine IA

Watch Alan Ehrlich talk about how organised reasoning was used in this assessment.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Upcoming workshops on Organised Reasoning

Head to our Events page to view upcoming workshops on Organised reasoning.