EARLIER EVENTS :: 2014 :: Workshops

Social Science for Conservation Biologists- An Introduction

Presented by Sharachchandra Lele, Seema Purushothaman, E. Somanathan and Sudha Vasan

Organized by Indian Society for Ecological Economics (INSEE) www.ecoinsee.org


Conservation is a social activity, in that it involves citizens coming together and acting to save what they cherish—whether charismatic species, wilderness per se, or biodiversity. And it has social consequences, whether on the lives of forest-dependent people or expenditure of society’s financial resources. But the amount of social science in conservation science and policy still seems to be limited. This workshop aims to provide young conservationists, especially conservation biologists, an introduction to the social sciences. This includes a discussion of conservation as a value-laden process and its tensions with other social goals, and an exposure to how different disciplines within the social sciences frame and analyse conservation issues. Concepts such as values, ethics, framing, structure and agency, markets, regulatory institutions and governance will be introduced. The sessions will be conducted in an interactive manner, using illustrations from the Indian/south Asian/tropical developing country context. The goal is to enable the next generation of conservation biologists/ecologists to better engage with the social sciences and with the social mission of conservation.

Resource Persons

1.     Sharachchandra Lele, ATREE and President, INSEE (SL)

2.     Seema Purushothaman, Azim Premji University (SP)

3.     E. Somanathan, Indian Statistical Institute (ES)

4.     Sudha Vasan, Dept of Sociology, Delhi University (SV)


1.     Conservation as a social activity and the role of the Social Sciences in conservation (SL): An overview.

2.     Conservation, sustainability and environmental justice (SL): The values and ethics underpinning environmentalism.

3.     Economic perspectives on conservation (SP): How economics has engaged with the question of conservation, using ideas of externality, environmental benefit-cost analysis, payments for ecosystem services, and the larger question of GDP and biodiversity.

4.  Institutions and biodiversity conservation (ES): Common-pool resources, tragedy of ‘open-access’, cooperative solutions and the role of social norms.

5. Political Ecology (SV): Deconstructing ‘conservation’ and ‘degradation’, the role of colonial and post-colonial power structures, capitalism and nature.

Capacity: 25 Students