This paper explores the role that Internet and online technologies played in research dissemination and knowledge mobilization in a recent climate change research project, MC3. In addition, the team looked at the potential of online expert-practitioner research collaborations for these purposes. Electronic communication was seen as a key element for creating distributed networks essential to the project and for building new practitioner/research knowledge collaboratives. The paper discusses how online communication strategies and technologies were used for wide dissemination of its research outcomes. MC3's research dissemination and knowledge mobilization strategies are analyzed, using engagement as the primary measure, to gain insights on the effectiveness and challenges of using Internet-based tools for communicating climate change innovations and actions.
Communication and Education
Interviews were conducted with 110 marine users to elicit their salient beliefs about recording marine species in a citizen science project. The results showed that many interviewees believe participation would increase knowledge (either scientific, the community’s, or their own). While almost half of the interviewees saw no negative outcomes, a small number expressed concerns about targeting of marine species by others, or restrictions on public access to marine sites. Most of the people surveyed (n = 106) emphasised the importance of well-designed technological interfaces to assist their data collection, without which they would be unlikely to engage in the project.
As anthropogenic stressors threaten the health of marine ecosystems, there is a need to better understand how the public processes and responds to information about ocean health. Recent studies of public perceptions about ocean issues report high concern but limited knowledge, prompting calls for information campaigns to mobilize public support for ocean restoration policy. Drawing on the literature from communication, psychology and related social science disciplines, we consider a set of social-cognitive challenges that researchers and advocates are likely to encounter when communicating with the public about ocean health and emerging marine diseases—namely, the psychological distance at which ocean issues are construed, the unfamiliarity of aquatic systems to many members of the public and the potential for marine health issues to be interpreted through politicized schemas that encourage motivated reasoning over the dispassionate consideration of scientific evidence. We offer theory-based strategies to help public outreach efforts address these challenges and present data from a recent experiment exploring the role of message framing (emphasizing the public health or environmental consequences of marine disease) in shaping public support for environmental policy.
Interactions between social science and environmental policy have become increasingly important over the past 25 years. There has, however, been little analysis of the roles that social scientists adopt and the contributions they make. In this paper we begin the process, offering tentative answers to two key questions: in relation to environmental problems: (1) how do social science and public policy interact? and (2) in the future, what types of interactions can social scientists engage in? To answer these questions we build on research in policy studies and science and technology studies, and extend it through public scholarship debates.
Flagship species are frequently used by conservation practitioners to raise funds and awareness for reducing biodiversity loss. However, uncertainty re- mains in the academic literature about the purpose of flagship species and lit- tle research has been conducted on improving the effectiveness of these cam- paigns. To reduce this problem, here, we suggest a new definition that further emphasizes their marketing role and propose an interdisciplinary framework to improve flagship identification, based on methodologies from social mar- keting, environmental economics, and conservation biology. This framework emphasizes that conservationists should specify the purpose of a campaign before working with the potential target audience to identify the most suit- able species, and should monitor the success of their campaigns and feed this back into the marketing process. We then discuss the role of return on invest- ment analyses to determine when funds are best spent on high-profile flagships and when raising the profile of other species is more appropriate. Finally, we discuss how the flagship concept can be applied to other aspects of biodiver- sity, such as priority regions and species sharing specific traits. Thus, we argue for closer collaboration between researchers and marketing experts to ensure that marketing becomes a mainstream part of the interdisciplinary science of conservation.
Rare trains local conservation leaders all over the world to change the way their communities relate to nature. Its signature method is called a “Pride campaign” – so named because it inspires people to take pride in the species and habitats that make their communities unique, while also introducing viable alternatives to environmentally destructive practices.
Pride campaigns are based largely on principles of social marketing, a field that draws on the behavioral sciences and uses techniques of commercial marketing to change behavior to achieve a specific social goal (Andreasen 1995; Kotler and Zaltman 1971). Until recently, the social marketing approach has been applied mostly to the field of public health, however conservationists have begun to embrace it as a way to move beyond traditional approaches to raising awareness. The principles of social marketing teach that to change behavior we must first identify and understand the motivations of the specific group of people whose behavior we want to change. The approach also highlights the need to appreciate the barriers that may prevent the group from changing their behavior, regardless of their knowledge of or attitude toward the issue at hand. Many of the more important tenets of the behavioral sciences and social marketing inform the Pride approach to behavior change.
Pride campaigns are run by local partners over a two to three-year period while they are trained and closely supported by Rare. At its core, a Pride campaign inspires people to take pride in the species and habitats that make their communities unique, while also promoting alternatives to environmentally destructive practices. Rare’s partners borrow proven private sector marketing tools – like mascots, billboards, public events and radio shows – to promote more sustainable behaviors that benefit people and nature. Often times, the first thing people recognize about Rare Pride campaigns are the charismatic mascots creatively designed by partners to represent a flagship species for each and every campaign.
The following pages outline the guiding principles of Rare’s Pride program and the scientific foundations upon which they are based. It is not a step-by-step manual on how to design and implement a Pride campaign, but rather a synopsis designed to help staff, partners and other stakeholders understand how and why Pride works to change behaviors so that people and nature thrive. Entire volumes can and have been written on the extensive theory that informs these principles – duplicating that effort here is impossible. Rather, the Principles of Pride are a quick guide to the essence of Rare’s social marketing approach, its underlying theory, and the key principles which guide it. It is based on over 25 years of lessons learned from more than 250 Pride campaigns in 57 countries across the globe. Where relevant, references are cited throughout the document to enable the curious reader to explore topics in greater detail.
Anthropomorphism has recently emerged in the literature as a useful tool for conservation. Within the current conservation literature, description of the development of anthropomorphisms and the range of species that can be anthropomorphized overlooks established and emerging evidence from anthropological and other social science studies of human–animal relationships. This research shows that people anthropomorphize a very broad range of species, including plants. We discuss how people construct anthropomorphic meanings around species, through a diversity of mechanisms and with both positive and negative effects. We then review the many gradations and forms of anthropomorphism, and some related conceptions in non-Western cultures, which have different types of utility for conservation. Finally we discuss cases where animals are anthropomorphized but with negative outcomes for human-animal interactions and conservation. Limiting the use of anthropomorphism in conservation to prosocial, intelligent, suffering animals risks suggesting that other species are not worthy of conservation because they are not like humans in the “right” ways. It would also mean overlooking the application of a powerful tool to the promotion of low-profile species with high biological conservation value. We emphasize that negative outcomes and conflicts with ecosystem-level conservation actions are also possible and need to be carefully managed. Use of anthropomorphism in conservation must take into account how people engage with species and attribute value to their characteristics.
Local land-use planning procedures are increasingly recognized as potentially crucial to ensure off-reserve biodiversity protection. Mainstreaming systematic conservation planning maps in these decision-making procedures has been proposed as a mechanism to achieve this. However, research is lacking on how to convince officials and politicians to change their behaviour and include the maps in their decision-making. Social marketing is a tool commonly used to effect behaviour change in many sectors but its application in conservation is limited. In the formative research phase of a social marketing study we interviewed locally elected politicians in four coastal municipalities in South Africa. We found that conservation and environmental issues play virtually no role in their work; however, they do attribute value to the natural environment. Land-use planning procedures are considered important but dysfunctional and the role of conservation is perceived negatively in their municipalities. Their information-seeking behaviour is clearly localized. We present a marketing analysis of these results and argue for improving the attractiveness of the product: the maps should be more option- than veto-based and should identify locally relevant ecosystem services. Locally significant information should be provided at a time and location convenient for politicians. We conclude that engagement with councillors should be proactive, refer to land-use planning and services from ‘nature’ rather than ‘biodiversity’ and use terminology and information that is locally oriented and meaningful from the politician's perspective. The analysis highlights the usefulness of the marketing approach for conservation.
Flagships remain a key approach for motivating and mobilizing conservation actions and interests. This study quantified attitudes towards two endemic globally threatened Amazona parrots, one of which was developed as a popular flagship in the 1980s. We used a mixed methods approach that included qualitative and quantitative interviewing and a newspaper content analysis to provide empirical evidence that the process of creating this conservation flagship inadvertently fostered negative attitudes and behaviors towards its non-flagship congener. We argue that, similar to other commercially branded goods and services, popular conservation flagships can produce powerful standards of comparison that may decrease the attractiveness and public acceptance of non-flagship species. These results parallel findings from the fields of consumer research and marketing psychology showing that “top-of-the-line” products may hurt sibling models. We therefore suggest that this is an important unintended consequence of the flagship approach and encourage the conservation community to learn from commercial brand developers who have been wary of the potential for exclusionary contrast effects of flagship brand deployment.
Conservation marketing campaigns that focus on flagship species play a vital role in biological diversity conservation because they raise funds and change people's behavior. However, most flagship species are selected without considering the target audience of the campaign, which can hamper the campaign's effectiveness. To address this problem, we used a systematic and stakeholder-driven approach to select flagship species for a conservation campaign in the Serra do Urubu in northeastern Brazil. We based our techniques on environmental economic and marketing methods. We used choice experiments to examine the species attributes that drive preference and latent-class models to segment respondents into groups by preferences and socioeconomic characteristics. We used respondent preferences and information on bird species inhabiting the Serra do Urubu to calculate a flagship species suitability score. We also asked respondents to indicate their favorite species from a set list to enable comparison between methods. The species’ traits that drove audience preference were geographic distribution, population size, visibility, attractiveness, and survival in captivity. However, the importance of these factors differed among groups and groups differed in their views on whether species with small populations and the ability to survive in captivity should be prioritized. The popularity rankings of species differed between approaches, a result that was probably related to the different ways in which the 2 methods measured preference. Our new approach is a transparent and evidence-based method that can be used to refine the way stakeholders are engaged in the design of conservation marketing campaigns.