Interactions of Society and the Environment Seminar Series (ISESS)

Overview

This seminar series provides a forum balanced between students and professionals to discuss societal involvement in natural resource policy and decisions. Presentations focus on theory and methodology, research findings, and management implications. ISESS is a catalyst for building stronger connections among natural resource professionals and students along Colorado's Front Range and beyond. Each semester a handful of students and professionals are invited to present their projects and methods either individually or in conjunction with similar projects within a topic. The presentations are open to the public and can be attended in person, or viewed through a live broadcast. The presentations are recorded, and an archive has been created of past presentations. 

Upcoming Events

There are three presentation dates for Spring 2017. As we confirm presenters and topics, we will update the event information.

  • February 24, 2017 Social and Environmental Justice: Psychological Antecedents and Local Colorado Impacts
  • March 27, 2017
  • April 21, 2017

Seminar Series Sponsors

  • Colorado State University: Department of Journalism and Technical Communication
  • National Park Service: Natural Resource Stewardship and Science Program
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Human Dimensions of Biological Resource Management Program
  • U.S. Forest Service: Human Dimensions Branch
  • U.S. Geological Survey: Social Economic Analysis Branch

 

Examples of Studies or Initiatives

The presentations feature a broad array of studies, initiatives, examples, and research techniques throughout social science in natural resource management. The presentations are listed chronologically by the year in which they were delivered. The most recent presentations are listed first, and you may jump to a specific year. A few of the presentations were not successfully recorded and therefore do not link to audio/video, however you may contact the ISESS Committee to see if the slides or contact information is available for a particular presentation.

2016     2015     2014     2013


2016 Interactions of Society and the Environment Seminar Series Presentations


JournalismMedia Strategies for Preserving Natural and Cultural Resources. December 9, 2016. Dr. Ashley A. Anderson (Colorado State University Department of Journalism and Media Communication), Dr. Joseph G. Champ (Colorado State University Department of Journalism and Media Communication), Emily Johnson (PhD candidate Colorado State University Department of Journalism and Media Communication), and Sara Melena (Education Specialist with the National Park Service Office of Education and Outreach, NRSS Centennial Coordinator) present on how the National Park Service manages all national parks in the U.S., as well as national monuments, and other historic and conservation properties. What role do media and communication play in helping the NPS meet its mission of preserving the ecology and history of the places it manages, while ensuring that these spaces are always available for the use and enjoyment of the public? Colorado State University’s Department of Journalism and Media Communication is exploring answers to this question. Learn about their ongoing research efforts, which cover topics ranging from communication to prevent unsafe wildlife selfies, to how NPS employees apply scientific information to management, to the role of Facebook and Instagram in the “Find Your Park” 100th anniversary campaign. 

WildfireThe Wildfire Research (WiRe) Team: Infusing Social Science into Wildfire Education Programs. November 2, 2016. James Meldrum (Fort Collins Science Center in the U.S. Geological Survey), Patricia Champ (Rocky Mountain Research Stations in the U.S. Forest Service), Hannah Brenkert-Smith (Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado), Chris Barth (Bureau of Land Management), and Lilia Falk (West Region Wildfire Council) present an on-going project in wildfire education programs. The WiRē team (https://wildfireresearch.wordpress.com/) is an interdisciplinary research collaboration that has developed a household and community level data collection approach that informs wildfire education programs tailored to the unique characteristics of the community and its residents. The systematic data also serve as a baseline to monitor changes in biophysical and social conditions over time. In addition, the social science engages communities in discussions about how to adapt to living in a fire prone environment.

Volcanos

Developing a Rhetoric of 'Volcano Systems Services' for More Sustainable Volcanic Risk Management. April 25, 2016. Dr. Jessica Roberts (University of York, United Kingdom) discusses "Developing a rhetoric of ‘volcano systems services’ for more sustainable volcanic risk management" for communities who live on active volcanoes. She asserts that there is a greater value of volcanoes to society that needs to be accounted for. Common assumptions about volcanology is that people live on active volcanoes because they are too poor to live anywhere else, they don't understand the risk, and are mainly agricultural and volcanic soil is fertile. But then there are also people who live with volcanoes in the developed world who do not fit those assumptions. In other words, some people choose to live on active volcanoes for reasons such as security or peace, away from violence and a sense of community.

Bear Behavior

Understanding Drivers of Human and Animal Behavior to Inform Wildlife Management. February 17, 2016. Kirsten Leong (Human Dimensions Program Manager for the Biological Resources Division in Natural Resource Stweardship and Science at the National Park Service), and Jacqueline Keating (Research Assistant in the Department of Sociology at Utah State University, and Seasonal Ranger for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska) discuss how parks and refuges bring people into wildlife habitat where both people and wildlife learn from one another, and often alter their behaviors based on these experiences. To mitigate undesired learned behaviors, the National Park Service has worked to identify key principles applicable to managing both animal and human behavior. Kirsten Leong will discuss these principles and share practical steps for managing wildlife behavior and integrating social science into fostering positive human behavior and safe visitor experiences. Jacqueline Keating will discuss a current mixed-methods study on the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge that seeks to better understand bear-human interactions in order to facilitate safe, educational bear viewing for both people and bears.


 

2015 Interactions of Society and the Environment Seminar Series Presentations

BatsCommunicating About Bats and Disease in National Parks. October 8, 2015. Kristy Burnett (Graduate Research Assistant for the Department of Journalism and Media Communication at Colorado State University) and Danielle Buttke (One Health Coordinator for the Biological Resources Division/Wildlife Health Branch and Office of Public Health with the National Parks Service) talk about how bats are both affected by diseases in parks and may be vectors of zoonotic diseases. How parks communicate about bats and disease has the potential to affect the public’s perception of the conservation value of these animals. Kristy Burnett will examine how we communicate about disease risk to bats from white-nose syndrome. Communicating consistent messages about WNS in the National Park Service is challenging, as individual parks have different levels of risk and routes of introduction. Using WNS communication as an example, Kristy will discuss ways that service-wide communication regarding a particular resource issue can be researched and developed. Danielle Buttke will discuss disease risk from bats, specifically rabies. Recent attention to zoonotic diseases and the One Health Initiative has resulted in increased messaging about potential threats that wildlife may pose to human health. However, little is known about the ability to increase risk prevention behaviors of public health education around zoonotic diseases or the potential for unintended negative consequences. In response, a study was designed to determine how messages about the risk of bat rabies influenced public perceptions of bats, conservation intentions, and prevention behaviors. Incorporating One Health messaging into public health messages may improve support for conservation AND adherence to public health recommendations, a win-win for public health and bats.

Ensuring Successful Eynergies

Ensuring Successful Synergies for Wildlife and Visitor Management. September 9, 2015. Jeffrey Skibins (Assistant Professor of Park Management and Conservation in the Department of Horticulture, Forestry, and Recreation Resources at Kansas State University), Matt Brownlee (Assistant Professor in Natural Resources Recreation Planning and Management in the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism at the University of Utah), and Ryan Sharp (Assistant Professor of Park Management and Conservation in the Department of Horticulture, Forestry, and Recreation Resources at Kansas State University) discuss why wildlife is a key resource across the entire National Park System and other parks and protected areas. As a resource, it also carries with it several management implications, such as interpretation, conservation, and visitor experience management. The expectation of managers is that any action will provide the utmost benefit to both wildlife and visitor while not impinging on the needs of either. The purpose of this presentation is to provide strategies, supported by evidence, to improve the relationship between park wildlife and visitors. Flagship species are often thought of simply as marketing images, or novel interpretive presentations. However, recent data suggests flagship species hold a powerful allure with the public and can be used to generate strong and lasting support for conservation initiatives. Dr. Jeffrey Skibins will present strategies on how to turn any species into a flagship, as well as how to align such actions with broader park management goals. One key outcome from flagships is improving philanthropy. Using evidence from parks and sanctuaries around the world, Dr. Matt Brownlee will discuss how to maximize this crucial conservation action in visitors. Viewing flagships is a key visitor experience. Dr. Ryan Sharp will present management scenarios that create meaningful viewing experiences and promote visitor support for on-site conservation.

Studies of Recreation and wildlife

Balancing Public Access with Biodiversity Protection: Current Knowledge, Research Needs, and Management Challenges. April 24, 2015. Sarah Reed (Associate Conservation Scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society and Affiliate Faculty member in Colorado State University's Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology) and Sarah Thomas (Research Affiliate at University of Colorado's Center of the American West, and private research and strategy consultant) discuss how public demand for outdoor recreation has proved a major impetus for land protection in the United States since key conservation policies, management programs, and funding initiatives are aimed at ensuring public access to protected areas. Although trade-offs between extractive and consumptive land uses and species protection are well known, outdoor recreation is often assumed to be compatible with biodiversity conservation. A growing body of research complicates this assumption, showing that recreation can negatively impact plant and animal communities. These findings are of particular concern for biodiversity protection given that visitation to protected areas and participation in nature-based activities are growing across the globe. Sarah Reed will discuss key findings of a global systematic review of the effects of recreation on wildlife, suggest priorities for future research, and highlight two new field projects that are addressing the challenges and trade-offs of balancing nature-based tourism with biodiversity conservation in protected areas. Sarah Thomas will explore the entrenched political and policy ties between outdoor recreation and land protection, present findings on the critical challenges outdoor recreation poses to land managers, and propose management strategies that can help to minimize recreation activities’ potential ecological damage.

Emerging Social Ethics for Animals

Emerging Social Ethics for Animals (recording unavailable).  April 17, 2015. Dr. Bernard Rollin (Colorado State University Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Animal Sciences, and Biomedical Sciences; and University Bioethicist) argues the twentieth century has witnessed a bewildering array of ethical revolutions from civil rights to environmentalism to feminism. Often ignored is the rise of massive societal concern across the world regarding animal treatment. Regulation of animal research exists in virtually all western countries and reform of "factory farming" is regnant in Europe and rapidly emerging in the United States. Opponents of concern for animals often dismiss the phenomenon as rooted in emotion and extremist lack of appreciation of how unrestricted animal use has improved human life. Such a view ignores the rational ethical basis for elevating legal protection for animals, as explained in this presentation.


 

2014 Interactions of Society and the Environment Seminar Series Presentations

Impact of Modernity on Pastoral Lands: Utilizing Environmental History to Decipher the Past and Guide Our Future. October 24, 2014. Dr. Andrea Williams (Environmental Historian and Colorado State University Director of International Studies) and Dr. Thaddeus Sunseri (Colorado State University Professor of African History) argue that there are patterns of past human/landscape interactions that can inform our behaviors today. Dr. William's research focuses on pastoral groups - primarily herders of sheep and goats - in Mediterranean France, North Africa, and Anatolia. Dr. Williams argues that the central state (both French and Ottoman) used the rhetoric of environmental conservation and the infrastructure of forest administration to marginalize and subjugate the pastoral groups over the course of the nineteenth century. As a result, the practice of mobile pastoralism has declined significantly throughout the Mediterranean region, and much territory has been converted to less sustainable practices of intensive agriculture, forest plantations, and sedentary pastoralism. Dr. Sunseri's work targets the interplay between cattle diseases and the industrialization of cattle, including pastoral transformations, in East Africa since the late nineteenth century. Recently Dr. Sunseri has focused on the history of scientific forestry and social conflicts over forest access in Tanzania since about 1850.

Conflict and Collaboration

Conflict and Collaboration in Conservation: Two Perspectives for Addressing Today's Conservation Challenges. October 15, 2014. Robin Reid (Center for Collaborative Conservation and Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability at Colorado State University) and Francine Madden (Human-Wildlife Collaboration) share presentations on different models demonstrating the global movement to collaborate in conservation, and examine the deep rooted sources of social conflict. Robin talks about a model on how to bring diverse stakeholders together and jointly define problems and co-learn ways to create new solutions. She uses case studies from the U.S. and Africa, and includes ways to design science so it is useful and put into practice. Also covered are ways to integrate different knowledge sources in this co-production process with diverse stakeholders. Robin concludes with suggestions on how to strengthen the the global movement to collaborate in conservation, and to build a common future. Francine discusses two analytical models examining sources of social conflict that often impede conservation efforts. Conservation conflicts serve as proxies for more elusize underlying social conflicts including struggles for group recognition, respect, meaningful participation, and identity. Too often, the science is rejected and otherwise sound decisions may be undermined because the process to make or enforce those decisions disregards the complexities and depth of social conflict surrounding the issues, as well as what is needed to build trust in relationships. Francine uses three case studies to share the best practices in conservation conflict transformation so as to increase social receptivity and shared commitment to conservation efforts.

Earth

Social Networks and Natural Resource Management (Recording unavailable). February 13, 2014. Jennifer Duberstein PhD (Education Outreach Coordinator for Sonoran Joint Venture), Jeni Cross PhD (Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Director of Research at the Institute for the Built Environment at Colorado State University), and Margaret T. Herzog PE, PMP, and PhD (in progress in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Colorado State University) compile a presentation on Social Network Analysis (SNA) which is the study of patterns in structures of social relations. Dr. Duberstein introduces social network analysis and discusses the relationship between network structure and resource user behavior within the context of natural resource management. Dr. Cross continues the discussion with social processes of inter-agency networks and the selection of members into these networks. She presents three case studies to illustrate how the rules of engagement in inter-agency networks, and processes of inciting and including diverse members, serve to hinder or foster knowledge creation and adoption of innovative practices. Dr. Herzog shares how SNA can be used to identify strategies to more systematically enhance cooperation and sharing of information and resources. In this way, it can help social-ecological systems to develop the capacity to more effectively adapt to unexpected events.

Focal Species define conservation

Social Implications of Selecting Focal Species to Guide Conservation. January 30, 2014. Lee O'Brien (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Leo Douglas Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, American Museum of Natural History) and Sadie Stevens (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) explain how surrogate species approaches have been applied in various contexts in attempt to simplify or focus conservation efforts. Four different types of surrogate species have been identified: indicators, umbrellas, keystones, and flagships. This seminar focuses on flagship species which are "popular, charismatic species that serve as symbols and rallying points to stimulate conservation awareness and action." Flagship species are particularly valuable for their potential to impact conservation behaviors including increasing support for fundraising. However, there are multiple social implication of using flagship species to garner support for conservation. We first outline the different surrogate species approaches by describing the distinct objectives and social implications of each approach. Then we explore the relationship between flagship species and social conflict by examining how we might preempt the potentially negative consequences of conflicts for both people and flagship species. We end with presenting research of potential flagship species for a Tanzanian National Park as a case study and discuss the lessons learned.


 

2013 Interactions of Society and the Environment Seminar Series Presentations

Citizen ScienceCitizen Science: Engaging Public Participation in Environmental Research to Meet Shared Conservation Goals. April 11, 2013. Carolyn Enquist (USA-National Phenology Network and The Wildlife Society), Jana Newman (National Wildlife Refuge Inventory and Monitoring Program, Natural Resource Program Center, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), and Janet Ady (Division of EducationOutreach, National Conservation Training Center, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) present on using citizen science. Carolyn explains that phenology is an indicator of climate change impacts and that it's used for resource management and public engagement. She explains how the study of timing of recurring biological events and the causes of their timing in plants and animals has been a long term tradition of observation by agriculturalists and naturalists, and how the observed changes are used for predicting species response and vulnerability. Jana discusses the goal of the Inventory and Monitoring Initiative, and using Phenology data to inform biological planning and be deliberate in working together as a conservation community. She explains how the collection and analysis of the data provides information on potential changes in key environmental events and the resulting impact on ecosystem dynamics, and notes that a small portion of the data comes from citizen science. Janet focuses on the perspective of education for engaging public participation in scientific research, and the benefits to conservation by educating and engaging the public in the context of using Phenology.

integrating and mapping social values

Integrating Spatial Data: Mapping Social Values in Relation to Energy and Water Resources in the Western U.S. March 7, 2013. Amy Pocewicz (The Nature Conservancy Wyoming Chapter) and Faith Sternlieb (Research Associate Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University) talk about efforts to place human beliefs into geospatial representations of landscapes which is increasingly being used to inform natural resource planning and management. In this seminar, we investigate ways in which mapping of social data can help to address issues stemming from people's dependence on energy and water resources in the western U.S. We explore The Nature Conservancy's work on mapping human preferences for energy development in Wyoming in relation to other calues, participants' homes, and existing development. We then investigate the Colorado Water Institute's mapping techniques for identifying locations where new initiatives for water use, sharing, and conservation may be implemented. Inherent to these two projects is a greater need for integration of social and biological data when addressing complex resource issues.

Valuing Environmental

Valuing Environmental Goods and Services: Learning from Existing Markets and Experimental Methods. February 28, 2013. Nicholas E. Flores (Department of Economics at University of Colorado) and Jason Shogren (Department of Economics and Finance at University of Wyoming) discuss carbon dioxide abatement through taxes and cap & trade. Dr. Shogren discusses valuation with experimental economic methods. Experimental economic methods have proven useful to explore the power and limits to nonmarket valuation through stated preference methods. We now understand better how people learn about and react to the incentives, institutions, and information created by surveys. This talk briefly reviews key topics in experimental valuation including ex ante bias corrections, ex post bias calibration, and examining the circumstances that strengthen or weaken the economist’s presumption of rational valuation.

place based climate change

Communicating Climate Change: Perspectives From Working With the Federal Agencies. February 14, 2013. Sharn Davis (Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, Colorado State University), Angie Richman (Climate Change Response Program, National Park Service), and Alia Dietsch (Policy Analysis and Science Assistance Branch, U.S. Geological Survey) present on the potential impacts of climate change and the serious challenges to the management of public lands. The success of policy and action aimed at addressing these challenges is often linked to support of both agency and public audiences. This seminar examines the efforts of the National Park Service's Climate Change Response Program to communicate climate change within the agency, and the Climate Change Education Parthership's work on implementing informal climate change education programming in National Parks and Wildlife Refuges. Finally, we investigate ways to communicate about climate change with different audiences using message frames explored as part of a nationwide survey of visitors to the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Geospatial Analysis

Science and Society Intersections: the Role of Judgement in Geospatial Analysis (Recording unavailable). January 31, 2013. Melinda Laituri (Director, Geospatial Centroid, Colorado State University) and Steven Leisz (Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Colorado State University) share some of their research activities in a preliminary demonstration. Following this, a panel discussion will ensue regarding how science, society, and policy intersect within the geospatial realm. This discussion will focus on the specific role of remote sensing and the general role of GIS to talk about bias and judgement in geospatial products and how this may influence research outcomes, policy, and visualization.

Related Partners

Most people know that the National Park Service cares for national parks, a network of nearly 400 natural, cultural and recreational sites across the nation. The treasures in this system -- the first of its kind in the world -- have been set aside by the American people to preserve, protect, and share, the legacies of this land.
The Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to manage and monitor the conservation of wildlife habitats throughout the United States. This includes the direct management of the National Wildlife Refuge System for the wellfare of all American people, and using social science in the decision making process and utilization of management plans.
The Forest Service was established in 1905 and is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Forest Service manages public lands in national forests and grasslands, which encompass 193 million acres.
The USGS serves the Nation by providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life.

Contacts

Inquiries for past presentations or suggestions for future seminars can be sent to ISESS@usgs.gov.