SPPA Professor Graeme Auld

In a new paper, SPPA Professor Graeme Auld and co-authors consider how fostering intellectual humility in conservation decision-making processes might reveal new ways of handling and navigating uncertainties about how best to tackle conservation problems.

Conservation, uncertainty and intellectual humility

Environmental Conservation, Vol 50 Issue 4
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 November 2023
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0376892923000176

Authored by: Sarah Michaels, Graeme Auld, Steven J Cooke, Nathan Young, Joseph R Bennett, and Jesse C Vermaire


Interventions in environmental conservation are intended to make things better, not worse. Yet unintended and unanticipated consequences plague environmental conservation; key is how uncertainty plays out. Insights from the intellectual humility literature offer constructive strategies for coming to terms with uncertainty. Strategies such as self-distancing and self-assessment of causal complexity can be incorporated into conservation decision-making processes. Including reflection on what we know and do not know in the decision-making process potentially reduces unintended and unanticipated consequences of environmental conservation and management decisions. An important caution is not to have intellectual humility legitimate failing to act in the face of uncertainty.

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