The roots of Human Nature come from my fascination with the natural world. As a child I would spend hours exploring our garden pond, a little pool full of snails, weed and frogs, with always a new discovery to be made. As I studied marine biology and coastal ecology at the University of Plymouth – indulging my passion for nature, I became increasingly aware that the solutions to the threats to the natural world I loved, lay mainly with people, not nature. I diversified my education, adding environmental law and ethics, economics and marine virology to my masters at the Marine Biological Association of the UK. I moved wholeheartedly into the world of social science with my interdisciplinary PhD. My thesis explored the ecological, policy and public definitions of a healthy marine environment, and sought opportunities to engage public audiences in marine conservation, through messages which would resonate with the public whilst being ecologically accurate and policy relevant.
After my PhD I worked on the Balanced Seas Marine Conservation Zones Regional Project, getting to see first hand the realities facing many sectors working in the marine environment and the policies attempting to balance those needs with ecological health. I then worked as a post-doctoral research fellow, at the University of Plymouth on a European funded project to develop an integrated management strategy for the English Channel. Here I was responsible for bringing together marine and maritime stakeholders from the both sides of the Channel to discuss how to achieve better outcomes for communities, business and nature. For the last six years I have been the lead social scientist at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, in their Centre for Conservation Science. As the first social scientist in their centre of ornithological excellence, I have developed the profile of social science across the organisation, giving me first hand experience of the reality of integrating social science into an organisation more familiar with natural sciences.
Human Nature integrates my experiences of conservation, passion for the natural world and curiosity about the social infrastructure which forms our responses to the current challenges. I believe that social science is essential to unlock the potential for action which is stored in our society. By setting up Human Nature as a social enterprise, I intend to deliver benefits beyond economic profit, through supporting relevant causes. Through Human Nature I hope to empower individuals and organisations to access and apply social science, and to apply the expertise within social science to catalyse conservation action and social change. Today Human Nature takes its first leap as we launch our one-day course Introduction to social science for conservation. There are more things in development, and I am really looking forward to sharing those with you in the coming weeks and months.