There are lots of ways to use social sciences in your conservation work. Here I share a few, and I’d love to know what you do.
One of the lovely things about the work I do at Human Nature is hearing the different ways people are using conservation social sciences in their work. Clearly, if you’re a social scientist, you spend most of your time doing social science (not all, of course, I’m not sure admin counts as social science…). But what if you work as an ecologist, a project leader, a conservation officer, an engagement manager, a director of communications? Your work may draw on expertise from a variety of fields and social sciences may be just one of those. Perhaps you’re just starting to explore how social sciences could be added to the projects you work on, perhaps you’ve been integrating social sciences into your work for many years.
Here are some ways you might use social sciences in your work:
- Conducting primary social sciences research – this is where you are collecting data, such as through questionnaires or interviews; you’re getting out and speaking to the people who are important to the places and conservation issues you work on. Analysing your findings gives you a better understanding of the system you work on, and the problems you’re trying to solve.
- Accessing the social sciences literature. Perhaps you aren’t looking to conduct primary research, but you’d like to use the expertise of social science research to inform the work you do, such as drawing on behaviour change research to help you design a community engagement programme.
- Are you working in interdisciplinary projects, where groups of researchers from different fields are coming together? You might want to know more about social sciences to better understand the work your project partners are doing, to understand the methods they use and allow you to find more connections between your work and theirs within the project.
- Maybe you’re an academic, and increasingly find yourself with students asking questions about more social sciences orientated subjects. Perhaps the types of undergraduate and postgraduate projects you need to supervise are taking you into social sciences disciplines which you haven’t previously worked in.
These are just a few suggestions, from a list which keeps growing as I speak to more people. For your particular work, you might find there is more than one way you want to use social sciences. I’d love to hear how you use conservation social sciences, so hit reply and let me know, or share what you are hoping to use in the future.
There are many different ways that conservation social sciences are used in our work. The right way for you will be a mixture of the project needs, the resources of you and your team, and the challenges you are working to overcome. Let me know how you use social sciences in your work.
See you in the next blog.