The Conservation Social Sciences: What, Why, and How?

Short Description

This report is a compilation of presentations at a workshop titled The Conservation Social Sciences: Clarifying ‘what?”, “how?” and ‘why?” to Inform Conservation Practice, held in conjunction with the North American Congress for Conservation Biology, July 2014.  Participants and presenters represented diverse social sciences focusing on conservation.  The editors restated what others have previously said, “current ecological issues cannot be solved by natural sciences alone”.  Since environmental issues are social and economic, it is logical to employ professionals with expertise in social sciences.  The recognition that social sciences play an important role in conservation has spurred an increased interest in collaboration between social and natural sciences.  The editors provide a lengthy list of barriers to collaboration between the sciences, including differing ideas of ‘valid’ data, different research methodology, differences in terminology and communication, lack of understanding and many more.  This report presents eleven papers addressing, anthropology, sociology, economics, psychology, political science, philosophy/ethics, science and technology studies, environmental education and communication, conservation and development, political ecology and human dimensions.  The editors acknowledge that some disciplines such as environmental law, human geography, and environmental humanities are absent from the proceedings.  The author concludes with a reminder that conservation issues are complex, and resolving those issues will take a multi- and interdisciplinary approach.  The appendices provide three tables: 1) an overview of the conservation social sciences, including the focus of each discipline, sample investigative questions, methodology and potential contributions to conservation, 2) locus and scale of problem, people/groups to be engaged, examples of questions appropriate to the scale and possible social science fields to address the problem, and 3) brief descriptions of social science methodology.  This article is a good resource for people working on (or planning to work on) and interdisciplinary team focused on conservation issues.

Suggested Citation

Bennett, NJ. & Roth, R.(eds.) (2015). The Conservation Social Sciences: What?, How? and Why? Vancouver, BC: Canadian Wildlife Federation and Institute for Resources Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia.