The latest issue of the journal Conservation Letters includes a Viewpoint article co-authored by the 2013 and 2014 cohorts of Smith Fellows, the latter of which I am lucky enough to be part of. In this piece (read it here) we argue that the recent debate around what is conservation (and by consequence what is not) has detracted from making our discipline more plural and inclusive. We provide at the end a set of recommendations on how to make conservation more diverse, including:
- Form relationships with collaborators from a variety of disciplines (including basic and applied sciences), traditions, backgrounds, and geographies, and with different motivations and values from our own.
- Engage in nontraditional training; e.g., facilitation,business planning, leadership, psychology, communication, social sciences, and arts, to increase effectiveness at working with others to ﬁnd and implement solutions.
- Seek out counsel from, and provide mentorship to, individuals from different ﬁelds of study, geographies,and cultures.
- Engage all affected stakeholders in identifying the scope of conservation problems and visions of success, including those we perceive to be adversaries.
- Adapt research and management approaches to the cultural and geographical landscapes in which the conservation issue occurs; use multiple approaches where possible.
- Explicitly acknowledge how values and vision of success motivate research questions and approaches
- Be mindful that our individual views on the success of a conservation action may differ from those who come for different backgrounds, geographies, and cultures.
- Work with affected communities and governing bodies to identify how economic, political, cultural, and religious realities affect the interpretation and utility of research.