The 25th International Congress on Conservation Biology (ICCB) in Auckland (NZ) ran with the theme “Engaging Society with Conservation.” Matthew Zylstra delivered an oral and poster presentation about his ongoing doctoral research (linked to eyes4earth.org) which critically examined how meaningful nature experiences might inform education aimed at achieving this theme. The audience was invited to question, firstly, whether we should also be thinking more in terms of engaging conservation with society (rather than only vice versa), and secondly, in response to Matt’s preliminary research results, the need to open up dialogue on conservation education’s role in reconnecting society with nature, particularly when there is little consensus or even scientific discussion on what “reconnecting” implies in practice.
Matt fielded a number of questions both after his oral presentation and during the poster presentation session. Audience questions covered topics of implications of meaningful nature experiences across diverse age and cultural groups, the role of traditional knowledge and value systems, the shortcomings of modern tertiary conservation education to include sufficient field-based learning, and a call for fellow conservation practitioners to share their own meaningful nature experiences – as a source of inspiration for what may well have gotten us walking this path of planetary passion in the first place.
The poster presentation covered the “science, art and action” of eyes4earth.org. Its novel feature was the launch of eyes4earth audio (“vibes4earth”) – mp3 soundtracks which creatively mix interviewee’s meaningful nature experiences (stories as retold by them) with inspirational ambient grooves. Thanks to Andrew Zylstra for music composition and production.
Stay tuned for the public release of these audio tracks in 2012.