Recommended Reads on Communication for Conservation

The article "Appeal to the Heart" and the book "Don't be Such a Scientist" challenge misconceptions about how to communicate to the public about conservation. From John Francis, CEC Regional Vice-Chair for North America and the Caribbean.

John Francis, IUCN CEC Regional Vice-chair Photo: CEC

Dear CEC members,

I returned last week from the International Conference on Conservation Biology in Edmonton having participated in a panel called "What's the Big Idea?" This focused on conservation of landscapes and wildlife corridors and, thanks to Gary Tabor, included space for discussing the challenges of getting citizens involved and messaging to larger audiences. What struck me in the Congress was that, without exception, all plenary speakers called for greater capacity to communicate effectively and accurately about conservation to the public.

Since we on the CEC all have a stake in this topic, I feel compelled to raise the point that accuracy and efficacy are sometimes in opposition in our communication. In fact, we need to engage good story tellers who are able to find drama and (I gasp) cut corners to reach a common good.

To that end I bring two examples to your attention, with apologies if this is old news to some on the list. First is an article in Wired Magazine by Erin Baba called "Appeal to the Heart"

Second is a must read book: "Don't be Such a Scientist" by Randy Olson (or here) which will help scientists realize the obstacles that come with our totally cerebral training and inclinations. The latter was a hard read for me, but kind of a self help book that I hope will gain traction with your assistance. 


CEC Regional Vice-Chair for North America and the Caribbean

John Francis, Ph.D.
Vice President
Research, Conservation, and Exploration
National Geographic Society
Washington, DC 20036

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