Holly Milton Brown, Margaret Rubega, and I have a new paper out in Conservation Biology, in which we write about why and how conservation biologists and practitioners should and can discuss privilege in the conservation biology classroom. It’s based on an exercise that Holly ran when a TA for a graduate level conservation biology course at UConn, and we thought the exercise plan, and the motivation for it, would be useful to share with the community of biologists that teach conservation. Check it out!
As we were looking over the proofs a few weeks ago, we wondered if the release of this paper was timely. And we decided a couple of things. First, generally speaking, a paper about the consequences of disparities in socioeconomic status is not going to be untimely any time soon. But second, more specifically, there’s been a sense in the academic circles I inhabit of not being quite sure what to do to in response to the current political climate. Doesn’t the importance of our research pale in comparison with the societal challenges that undoubtedly lie ahead of us? What are we going to change about how we teach and mentor and conduct research? Where should we focus our efforts? Obviously each of our answers to these questions will vary, each of us reaching a solution that seems correct for us.
But two things are clear, to me at least:
- Science, and conservation science in particular, is and will continue to be under attack.
- Racism, classism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination and prejudice are tangible to more of us today than even just a few months ago.
Our paper lies at the intersection of these two things, and gives all of us biologists invested in conservation a concrete step that we can take to broaden the discussion of this intersection. Even if you don’t like the steps we propose, we hope that we can get you thinking about why and how to bring discussions of privilege explicitly into the conservation classroom.
Let us know what you think!
P.S. I loved this essay from Eric Anthony Grollman on being committed to fighting injustice and oppression in academia.