Experiments in Consilience
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6 x 9
In his 1998 book Consilience, E.O. Wilson set forth the idea that integrating knowledge and insights from across the spectrum of human study -- the humanities, social science, and natural sciences -- is the key to solving complex environmental and social problems. Experiments in Consilience tells the unique story of a pathbreaking effort to apply this theoretical construct in a real-world setting.
The book describes the work of the Biodiversity Research Network, a team of experts from the United States and Canada brought together to build interdisciplinary connections and stimulate an exchange of expertise. Team members sought to understand the ecology and population dynamics of key species in particular ecosystems, to understand the impact of human populations on those species and ecosystems, and to develop tools and processes for involving a greater variety of stakeholders in conservation efforts.
In order to keep the experiment grounded, the network focused on a single type of conservation planning workshop run by a single organization -- the Population and Habitat Viability Assessment Workshop (PHVA) of the IUCN-sponsored Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG).
The book combines sections on the theoretical underpinnings of relevant concepts in population biology, simulation modeling, and social science with detailed descriptions of six PHVA workshops conducted on different species across four continents. A concluding chapter examines the lessons learned, which have application to both theory and practice, including reflections on interdisciplinarity, integrated risk assessment, and future directions for research and action. Through the combination of theory and application, combined with frank discussions of what the research network learned -- including both successes and failures -- the book offers fresh ideas on how to improve on-the-ground conservation decisionmaking.
Experiments in Consilience offers a one-of-a-kind overview and introduction to the challenges of cross-disciplinary analysis as well as cross-functional, cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral action. It centers on the problem of conserving endangered species while telling the story of a new form of organizing for effective risk assessment, recommendation, and action.
List of Acronyms
PART I. Introduction
Chapter 1. The Story of an Experiment: Integrating Social and Scientific Responses to Facilitate Conservation Action
PART II. Design for Consilience
Chapter 2. The Art of Walking through Walls: Strategy and Structure in the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group
Chapter 3. Integrating the Human Dimension into Endangered Species Risk Assessment
Chapter 4. Getting the Right Science and Getting the Science Right: Process Design and Facilitation in PHVA Workshops
Chapter 5. Logic Models for Building Knowledge and Networks: Early Evaluations of the PHVA Approach
PART III. The Workshops
Chapter 6. Guns, Germs, and Refugees: The Mountain Gorilla PHVA in Uganda
Chapter 7. Linking Monkeys, Biologists, and Palmito: The Muriqui PHVA in Brazil
Chapter 8. Building the Back Loop: Community Decision Making and the Peary and Arctic Islands Caribou PHVA in Northern Canada
Chapter 9. Incorporating Local Knowledge: Landowners and Tree Kangaroos in Papua New Guinea
Chapter 10. Uneasy Guests: The Grizzly Bear PHVA in the Central Canadian Rockies
Chapter 11. A Special Concern: The Wolves of Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario
PART IV. Understanding and Integrating the Dynamics Of Human Systems
Chapter 12. Governance for Conservation
Chapter 13. Human Population Dynamics and Integrative Action
Chapter 14. Incorporating Community Population Appraisals in PHVA Workshops: The Early Experience
Chapter 15. Caveat on Consilience: Barriers and Bridges for Traditional Knowledge and Conservation Science
Chapter 16. Strangers at the Party: An Industry Strategy Perspective on PHVAs
PART V. Reflections on Consilience
Chapter 17. On Building Bridges between Specializations
Chapter 18. Metamodels as a Tool for Risk Assessment
Chapter 19. Far from Land: Further Explorations in Consilience