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Experiments in Consilience: Integrating Social And Scientific Responses To Save Endangered Species

by Frances Westley Philip S. Miller

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. 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.

Getting to Maybe

by Michael Patton Frances Westley Brenda Zimmerman

A practical, inspirational, revolutionary guide to social innovationMany of us have a deep desire to make the world around us a better place. But often our good intentions are undermined by the fear that we are so insignificant in the big scheme of things that nothing we can do will actually help feed the world's hungry, fix the damage of a Hurricane Katrina or even get a healthy lunch program up and running in the local school. We tend to think that great social change is the province of heroes - an intimidating view of reality that keeps ordinary people on the couch. But extraordinary leaders such as Gandhi and even unlikely social activists such as Bob Geldof most often see themselves as harnessing the forces around them, rather than singlehandedly setting those forces in motion. The trick in any great social project - from the global fight against AIDS to working to eradicate poverty in a single Canadian city - is to stop looking at the discrete elements and start trying to understand the complex relationships between them. By studying fascinating real-life examples of social change through this systems-and-relationships lens, the authors of Getting to Maybe tease out the rules of engagement between volunteers, leaders, organizations and circumstance - between individuals and what Shakespeare called "the tide in the affairs of men."Getting to Maybe applies the insights of complexity theory and harvests the experiences of a wide range of people and organizations - including the ministers behind the Boston Miracle (and its aftermath); the Grameen Bank, in which one man's dream of micro-credit sparked a financial revolution for the world's poor; the efforts of a Canadian clothing designer to help transform the lives of aboriginal women and children; and many more - to lay out a brand new way of thinking about making change in communities, in business, and in the world.From the Hardcover edition.

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