Together with my brilliant co-authors, Manjana Milkoreit, Michele-Lee Moore, and Chanda Meek, we have a paper forthcoming with the journal Environmental Science and Policy entitled “Resilience Scientists as Change Makers – Growing the Middle Ground Between Science and Advocacy?”. It’s part of a Special Issue led by Andreas Thiel, Farhad Mukhtarov, and Dimitrios Zikos on “Crafting or designing? Science and politics for purposeful institutional change in Social- Ecological Systems”. The entire issue looks intriguing for anyone interested in institutional analysis and design and the governance of social-ecological systems.
In our paper, we analyze the role of scientists as they move from purveyors of knowledge and truth (!) into roles of advocacy and politics. In particular, we study how various members of the Resilience Alliance, a group of highly talented, experienced, successful senior scientists interact either directly or indirectly through their research with policy and decisionmakers. We highlight the challenges facing scientists at the science-policy frontier as well as a set of approaches in response to these challenges, including a hybrid approach between a “truth-seeker” and a “change-maker”. We see this as a particularly valuable identification exercise for resilience scientists and other likeminded scholars (conservation biologists, sustainability scientists, climate researchers, etc.) in that they draw on theoretical frameworks that are infused with clear value-sets. In the case of resilience science, these often include ecosystem and species protection, inclusiveness and participatory governance, and adaptation and change.
Some of these ideas are likely controversial. We are not attempting to pigeonhole any specific scientists into clearly delineated roles. However, we do hope that this sparks dialogue and introspection amongst ourselves and our peers to think about their role as scientists, change agents, and people inspired to action in ways that can change the world!