In the last blog I shared an update of what’s been happening over the last year or so for Human Nature, and the plans for this autumn. This week, I want to tell you a bit more about what Human Nature does and why.
At the core of Human Nature is a belief that social sciences provide tools, evidence and opportunities to improve our responses to the biodiversity and climate crises. Social sciences are the disciplines which explore society – whether that’s individual, community or society scale, to understand what people do and why they do it. In the conservation world, the natural sciences often dominate; those sciences which study plants and non-human animals to understand what they do and why they do it. The natural sciences are undoubtedly important. But we need a more diverse evidence base to catalyse the scale of shifts needed to respond to the challenges we face. This diversification is underway, and social sciences are increasingly being integrated into conservation. (We also need a load of other sciences and expertise beyond social and natural sciences – more on that in a future blog.)
There are two ways in which Human Nature works to increase the amount of social sciences in nature conservation. First, is through working with conservation and environment professionals – those working in academia, conservation NGOs, decision makers and beyond. Many of these professionals trained in natural sciences. They now find themselves wanting or needing to understand the people components of the ecosystems they work to protect. As people are move towards the social sciences, they often encounter new terminology, unfamiliar methods or systems not set up to recognise the value of social sciences. Through our training courses, mentoring and consultancy, Human Nature empowers them to do more with social sciences. This may be through demystifying conservation social sciences on our courses – exploring the disciplines, methods and data and how to overcome barriers to interdisciplinary working. Or through supporting organisational shifts championed by visionary leaders who want to embrace the opportunities social sciences provide, but need a bit of support on their journey.
The second way Human Nature brings more social sciences to conservation is through its application to our daily lives. As a scientist I get to see remarkable research into the problems which face our society – and the exploration of potential solutions to overcome those problems. I see how this research can help all of us. In my non work life, friends and family ask how to respond to the latest environmental news headline, how to trade off one sustainable lifestyle choice against another, or whether they can even make a difference. I meet so many people who want to reduce the impacts their lives have on the environment, and are seeking ways to take positive action. The Reducing Your Footprint membership will be a space where I can enable you to find the unique changes that fit your life – because there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and also support you as you make those changes. This will be grounded in the social sciences, applying the research which has so much potential to springboard those on the cusp of reducing their footprint to do so.
See you in the next blog