Mainstreaming the Social Sciences in Conservation

Sandlos, John and Bennett, Nathan J. and Roth, Robin and Klain, Sarah C. and Chan, Kai M. A. and Clark, Douglas A. and Cullman, Georgina and Epstein, Graham and Nelson, Michael Paul and Stedman, Richard and Teel, Tara L. and Thomas, Rebecca E. W. and Wyborn, Carina and Curran, Deborah and Greenberg, Alison and Veríssimo, Diogo (2016) Mainstreaming the Social Sciences in Conservation. Conservation Biology. ISSN 1523-1739

[img] [English] PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (358kB)


Despite broad recognition of the value of social sciences and increasingly vocal calls for better engagement with the human element of conservation, the conservation social sciences remain misunderstood and underutilized in practice. The conservation social sciences can provide unique and important contributions to society's understanding of the relationships between humans and nature and to improving conservation practice and outcomes. There are 4 barriers—ideological, institutional, knowledge, and capacity—to meaningful integration of the social sciences into conservation. We provide practical guidance on overcoming these barriers to mainstream the social sciences in conservation science, practice, and policy. Broadly, we recommend fostering knowledge on the scope and contributions of the social sciences to conservation, including social scientists from the inception of interdisciplinary research projects, incorporating social science research and insights during all stages of conservation planning and implementation, building social science capacity at all scales in conservation organizations and agencies, and promoting engagement with the social sciences in and through global conservation policy-influencing organizations. Conservation social scientists, too, need to be willing to engage with natural science knowledge and to communicate insights and recommendations clearly. We urge the conservation community to move beyond superficial engagement with the conservation social sciences. A more inclusive and integrative conservation science—one that includes the natural and social sciences—will enable more ecologically effective and socially just conservation. Better collaboration among social scientists, natural scientists, practitioners, and policy makers will facilitate a renewed and more robust conservation. Mainstreaming the conservation social sciences will facilitate the uptake of the full range of insights and contributions from these fields into conservation policy and practice.

Item Type: Article
Item ID: 12356
Additional Information: Funded by: National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Grant Number: DGE-1321845
Keywords: conservation biology, conservation planning, conservation science, conservation social science, environmental social science, human dimensions, natural resource management, social–ecological systems
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > History
Date: 22 July 2016
Date Type: Publication
Related URLs:

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over the past year

View more statistics