Scientists and conservationists are often outsiders in ecosystems and communities where they work. As a consequence, the needs and values of local communities are often overlooked. Problems are exacerbated when scientists cannot effectively communicate their motivations and desired outcomes, or fail to be culturally sensitive, because successful conservation comes from working with stakeholders. Furthermore, digital exposure makes decisions by managers and conservationists more visible to the public. Clear communication of rationale, goals, and decisions can mediate possible animosity, yet many scientists struggle to frame research into something meaningful to society. Social media posts offer limited context and distort perceptions of the broader picture, especially when they evoke strong emotions. One way to navigate these difficulties is through biocultural conservation, a strategy that acknowledges the relationship between cultures and the natural world, using that relationship as a foundation for benefiting both. The goal of this session is to provide students and early-career professionals an introduction to the skills for approaching public engagement with confidence and cultural sensitivity through biocultural conservation. Participants will engage with a panel of professionals who have worked with the public in various capacities, and participate in three themed sessions: communicating research, conservation storytelling, and community development. We will practice techniques for making science accessible to general audiences, explore creative ways to convey conservation messages, and learn the process for achieving successful conservation-focused community development. Attendees will leave the session with a clear understanding of biocultural conservation and necessary tools to apply it to their training and careers.
Supported By:Biocultural Conservation Institute – supporting panelist registration if needed