The Lewis & Clark ENVX Symposium is now approaching its 23rd year of discussion and engagement with the student body in Portland, OR. Its goal for the past two decades has been to create dynamic, challenging events which allow the audience to reexamine their ideas of what is and is not related to our notion of “the environment”. Each year has been in regards to a different topic, ranging from discussions with Daryl Davis, an African-American man who engaged with the Klu Klux Klan, to our observations on the complicated quagmire of the food chain.
Relating to the ‘X’ in its title, the ENVX Symposium positions itself each year to ensure that borders are crossed in one way or another. This could be physically between states and nations, or more conceptually, such as intellectually, economically, or racially. Students and the public are invited to create relations built on mutual respect and understanding, which help to facilitate further communication. “Symposium offers the Lewis & Clark community and general public an opportunity to experience this broader approach to environment…” This quote taken directly from the ENVX page on the Lewis & Clark website helps us better understand its goals. By bridging the gap between groups, a deeper conversation into our shared topics is facilitated; if this was not the aim of ENVX, then discussions would remain stuck in a liberal arts environment.
ENVX Symposium operates solely as a conceptual discussion which seeks to synthesize different points of view. As previously stated, this means that the concept of “environmental topics” can host a wide number of concepts. ENVX is not the only symposium on campus, and others include the Ray Warren Race Symposium and the Lewis & Clark Gender Symposium, both of which also operate in a conceptual manner; they are not there to direct, they are there to facilitate. Organizations related to ENVX are the Environmental Studies department, which is the main host of the symposium, and the college itself, which funds the project entirely through fees taken out of student tuition.
This years’ symposium aims to bring together the two seemingly disconnected ends of conservation. The aim and the goals are not being implemented and fairly felt by all. This article proposes that perhaps one way to solve the issue of repeating unsuccessful endeavors is to simply publish the failures. These types of publications are very rare in scientific journals and might be leading to the advancement of the false idea that only successes are valuable. In fact most of our learning and growth occurs when we fail and must try to discover new and more advantageous ways of going about things; the same is true for conservation.
Holzer , J.M., C.M. Adamescue, C. Cazacu, R. Diaz-Delgado, J. Dick, P.F. Mendez, L. Santa Maria, and D.E. Orenstein. (October 24, 2019) “Evaluating Transdisciplinary Science to Open Research-Implementation Spaces in European Social-Ecological Systems.” Biological Conservation 238, no. October. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320719305397.
This publication grapples with the effectiveness of active implementation of social-ecological systems in dealing with large scale issues such as conservation, out symposium theme. The authors put forward a study in which they used these social-ecological approaches and found them to be more effective problem solving mechanisms. By looking at not only the direct problem, by seeking to view the issue as a sum of all of its various parts, you are more able to deal with the root rather than simply cutting off the head, which will eventually regrow. Social-ecological theory aims to see all parts of an issue, all aspects of the people, places and things involved in an issue, such as conservation. It is in a sense a plea to broaden your mind and see past traditional mindsets that have only helped us in our journey to this currently broken state of conservation.
Maas, Bea, Anne Toomey, and Rafael Loyola. “Exploring and Expanding the Spaces between Research and Implementation in Conservation Science.” Biological Conservation 240 (December 1, 2019): 108290. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.108290.
This article provides us with the overarching idea of navigating the space between research and implementation, an important part of practicing any particular science, but especially conservation science. Maas et al. aims to answer these three questions: do we have our priorities right? Are we documenting and learning from our successes and failures through evaluation? And who are we including or excluding in the spaces between research and implementation? This article follows the key theme of taking a transdisciplinary turn when it comes to research and implementation practices. A transdisciplinary turn implies “(. . .) going beyond the call of multi- or even inter-disciplinary to engage deliberately with the societal contexts in which we conduct and publish our research (Maas et al. 2019). This is very important to our symposium in order to follow the idea of understanding and creating environment across boundaries. Conservation science is nothing without its research, but it is also nothing without implementation of this research.
Reed, James Van, Jos Van Barlow, Rachel Van Carmenta, Josh Van Vianen, and Terry Van Sunderland. (September 5, 2019) “Engaging Multiple Stakeholders to Reconcile Climate, Conservation and Development Objectives in Tropical Landscapes.” Biological Conservation 283, no. October. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320719305737.
This reference touches upon a crucial issue within conservation, who has a say? Who has a say in how and through whom land is protected? Are those voices equal? Are the individuals impacted most directly heard most fairly? This article places their support behind ideas that we have briefly touched upon in class, local and people-based initiatives are most successful and that engagement at all levels, not simply in a top-down fashion produces the best outcome for all of the stakeholders and non-stakeholders alike. This article also focuses on the importance of moving away from seeing issues of conservation and climate change as singular quarrels that have a set goal or target and one way to achieve it, rather viewing them as multi-disciplinary and transtopic issues is a more accurate description, which will in turn help to directly address all parts of the problem.
Rose, David Christian, Tatsuya Amano, Juan P. González-Varo, Nibedita Mukherjee, Rebecca J. Robertson, Benno I. Simmons, Hannah S. Wauchope, and William J. Sutherland. “Calling for a New Agenda for Conservation Science to Create Evidence-Informed Policy.” Biological Conservation 238 (October 1, 2019): 108222. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.108222.
This study investigates the difficulties with improving the use of scientific evidence in conservation policies. After conducting an extensive study, ten major barriers were defined, which were then put into three themes. These new comprehensive barriers are as follows: 1) conservation is not a political concern, 2) there is a severe lack of engagement between scientists and decision-makers, and 3) conservation issues are complicated and uncertain. This led to the understanding that instead of focusing on barriers and solutions, we must first focus on overcoming implementation challenges that are preventing these solutions from working. This is a good fundamental paper for understanding the ways in which we must approach this topic, by starting at the base problem of the subject and then turning towards determining barriers and solutions.
Sutherland, William J., Nigel G. Taylor, Douglas MacFarlane, Tatsuya Amano, Alec P. Christie, Lynn V. Dicks, Anaëlle J. Lemasson, et al. “Building a Tool to Overcome Barriers in Research-Implementation Spaces: The Conservation Evidence Database.” Biological Conservation 238 (2019): 108199. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.108199.
This article explores a unique system that has been developed to bridge the gap between conservation practitioners, policy-makers, and researchers. The Conservation Evidence is an open access database that was created to solve barriers that are routinely faced when trying to bridge the gap between research and implementation: “(. . .) lack of time, inaccessibility of evidence, real of perceived irrelevance of scientific research to practical questions, and the politically motivated spread of disinformation” (Sutherland et al. 2019). The formation of this database is established on finding discipline-wide literature and synthesizing subject-wide evidence to create an easily understandable index of scientific evidence of the impacts of conservation intervention on biodiversity. It also forms a space in which researchers and practitioners can interact by collaborating on pursuing evidence-based conservation. This is important in the way that it introduces a solution specifically with the research-implementation gap in mind.