Relationship to Center for Biodiversity Outcomes
As one of several research and development labs for the ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, our team contributes research insights to questions that are posted by partner organizations (e.g., World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Conservation International and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature). Consistent with the center’s approach, we postulate that innovation occurs at disciplinary boundaries, so by definition our work is interdisciplinary. We also share a commitment to integrating insights from natural and social sciences into tenable decision tools and policy. In turn, the center provides hands-on opportunities for students and postdocs.
A culture of diversity and inclusion
A key challenge in 21st century conservation science is a growing social divide in how society perceives and values nature. We are committed to closing the gap in social inequality in the way we interact with the natural world by providing an inclusive culture in teaching, mentoring and innovation. This includes a mutual desire to find pathways that equalize access to nature by underrepresented groups in science. Without these pathways, innovation in our field will be stifled. By engaging diverse communities in biodiversity and sustainability education, we are poised to achieve societal outcomes that reflect not only provide important foundational knowledge, but also enable students to become agents of change.
Leadership and communication
America remains inactive about the ramifications of critical societal challenges such as climate change, environmental hazards and living sustainably. Less than two percent of Congress has any professional background in science. Environmental issues are no longer local and solutions cannot remain provincial. Scientists must become envoys of knowledge that is global; science is now part of an unavoidable and contentious public discussion on these issues and we need it to catalyze solutions. Increasingly, scientists who are communicators are moving into positions of leadership, engaging with society and changing their academic institutions from within. Importantly, students in our lab obtain leadership training and important skills for early career scientists to communicate science.
In collaboration with our ASU-Conservation International Professors of Practice, students have the opportunity to engage in co-production of scholarship and solutions – to leverage our institutional strengths to protect nature, promote sustainable development models and train the next generation of conservation leaders. Through this partnership, CI provides ASU with a mechanism for rendering its research actionable, fostering real-world applications with tangible impacts. ASU provides CI with a wealth of research capacity and an immense opportunity to interact with, train and influence the next generation of conservation leaders. Through these connections, this partnership is an amazing opportunity to demonstrate an effective working model that addresses the pervasive research-action gap in conservation.