My research investigates concepts of Ethics in Conservation, using the case of large carnivore conservation to access and articulate the ethical models inherent in different conservation approaches. It also seeks to understand individuals’ ethical engagement with different conservation approaches. I am particularly interested in whether and how different educational and philosophical interventions influence peoples understanding of carnivore conservation, and particularly whether they adopt concepts and practices of ‘coexistence’. It is proposed that three different educational contexts will form the basis of this project: i) a non-profit experiential education centre, ii) a commercial zoo ‘visit with the animals’ style program, and iii) a government-funded educational program of some sort.
The first data collection phase of my project will focus on a case-study of a nature-centre and wolf-sanctuary involved in education around wolves and wolf conservation in Colorado, USA. This case-study will be used to investigate the ways that people think about and understand ‘Nature’, the character and behaviour of wolves, and wolf ecology and conservation – both before and after engaging with the educational program. I’m also seeking to understand what influence, if any, the educational experience at the sanctuary has on the ethical perspectives visitors hold on wolves, wolf conservation, and conservation more generally. Later phases of this project will seek to repeat this data collection phase with two alternative education settings, as articulated above.
My undergraduate BA degree at the ANU concluded with an Honours project in Human Ecology, looking at socio-cultural influences on farmer decision-making. My majors were Human Ecology and Applied Linguistics: fields of study which have influenced the formation and current direction of my PhD project. I am particularly interested in the role of framing, metaphor, affect and values in relation to rationality, and the processes whereby individuals negotiate their ethical position and behavioural intentions in relation to a given environmental situation.
At the Fenner School I am a member of the Policy, Institutions & Economics Group, and AMICIE (the ANU Methodology for Integrative, Collaborative and Interdisciplinary Engagement Forum).