Seeing the political in the ecological: Applying social science ideas and methods to conservation issues

Presented by Biological and ecological sciences are too often framed as apolitical. For example, biologists study the fish or the trees; ecologists study the ocean or the forests. Yet these sciences are often wielded (for conservation or otherwise) in ways that are inherently political. Government policies toward fisheries or forestry cater to the social, economic and political interests of many diverse (or, often, a few limited) stakeholders. Exercises to define maximum sustainable yield or go / no-go areas are fraught with sociopolitical considerations. Even mapping forests or fishing zones become political acts. Social science must therefore play an integral role in conservation policy/politics, but natural scientists sometimes remain unfamiliar with (or sometimes dismissive of) the intent, theories and methods of social science. This workshop will provide an introduction to the what, the why and the how of social science, with particular attention to applications for conservation problems and policies. This full-day interactive workshop will involve a morning lecture, a midday “field” activity, an afternoon debriefing and a final discussion of how to better involve social science methods into ecological research. Students will come away with a better of understanding of: + social science approaches to ecological problems+ the conceptions / misconceptions of how “truth” is studied+ the basic philosophies / inherent assumptions of social science+ the range of quantitative / qualitative methods and analytical tools+ the ways young scientists can become more interdisciplinary Workshop organisers:Adam Jadhav and guest input from Nitin Rai