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  1. Abstract

    Many scholars agree that both expert and lay knowledge are needed to gain a fuller understanding of environmental problems, both to find answers to the problems and to improve relations between experts and laypeople. When experts ignore lay knowledge, laypeople can resist by accusing experts of arrogance or conspiracy. Rural people who live among large carnivores like wolves and grizzly bears sometimes distrust expert knowledge or even promulgate conspiracy theories. One's knowledge is inextricably linked with one's identity and social relationships. In this ethnographic study, I examine how a Montana‐based non‐profit, Blackfoot Challenge (BC), facilitates the exchange of knowledge between experts and laypeople for carnivore management. Nurturing expert‐lay relationships is one strategy that BC uses in concert with two others to bridge the expert‐lay knowledge divide: facilitating learning experiences and relying on intermediaries. Knowledge exchanged within expert relationships allows experts to better understand the needs of laypeople and adapt their work to meet those needs while also disseminating expert knowledge to laypeople in a way that earns their trust. The trust built within expert‐lay relationships facilitates the exchange of knowledge, but the way experts and laypeople exchange knowledge also builds trust.

     
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