Interpretation is an educational activity which aims to reveal meaning and relationships through the sue of original objects, by first-hand experience, and by illustrative media, rather than to communicate factual information. Its application has been largely confined to environmental education and natural resource management.
Perhaps the major difference between consultation and interpretation is the overt emphasis given in interpretation to behavioural change.
"Images from the Edge!" was a project to document and interpret community perceptions of coastal landscape and lifestyle values in the Far North Coast region of New South Wales, Australia. The specific aims of the project were to: (1) devise and present a set of coastal landscape images to provide an effective and imaginative interpretive experience for regional residents and visitors; (2) document the values, attitudes and preferences of coastal residents and visitors; (3) provide useful data for appropriate design, plociy and planning of coastal regions; and (4) engage in a community consultative process, using input from diverse disciplines spanning the arts and sciences. The central element was a touring exhibition One of the more innovative information gathering activities was the "Wheel of Coastal Fortune" game which allowed players to reveal their preferences for landscape and development in coastal environments. "Landscapes for Tomorrow" was an earlier and somewhat similar landscape planning project in Britain.
Interpretation can be a powerful negotiative tool and an invaluable aid in social learning.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.