Science and Practice #1: Conservation and social science with Nathan Bennett

This is the first episode of a new series of the podcast that we are calling “Science and Practice”. In this series we will be interviewing guests who conduct applied work on environmental governance and conservation and who often act at the interface of such work and the scientific study of these topics. 

In this episode, Michael talks with Nathan Bennett, an Independent Consultant who has worked with several national and international organizations including the Nature Conservancy, Parks Canada, Environment Canada, Comunidad y Biodiversidad in Mexico, and the Smithsonian Institute. Nathan is also the Chair of the People and the Oceans Specialist Group for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). During their conversation, Michael asks Nathan about his role in bridging academic and practice-based work and the role that policy panaceas can play in each of these spaces. In his response, Nathan describes a more diagnostic approach that considers the relative costs and benefits of different types of marine policies as an important alternative to panacea thinking. They conclude the conversation by talking about Nathan’s work on the role of social science in conservation and the challenges and promise of doing interdisciplinary work for conservation.

Nathan’s website:


Bennett, N. J., R. Roth, S. C. Klain, K. Chan, P. Christie, D. A. Clark, G. Cullman, D. Curran, T. J. Durbin, G. Epstein, A. Greenberg, M. P. Nelson, J. Sandlos, R. Stedman, T. L. Teel, R. Thomas, D. Veríssimo, and C. Wyborn. 2017. Conservation social science: Understanding and integrating human dimensions to improve conservation. Biological conservation 205:93–108.

Bennett, N. J., T. S. Whitty, E. Finkbeiner, J. Pittman, H. Bassett, S. Gelcich, and E. H. Allison. 2018. Environmental Stewardship: A Conceptual Review and Analytical Framework. Environmental management 61(4):597–614.
Bennett, N. J., A. Calò, A. Di Franco, F. Niccolini, D. Marzo, I. Domina, C. Dimitriadis, F. Sobrado, M.-C. Santoni, E. Charbonnel, M. Trujillo, J. Garcia-Charton, L. Seddiki, V. Cappanera, J. Grbin, L. Kastelic, M. Milazzo, and P. Guidetti. 2020. Social equity and marine protected areas: Perceptions of small-scale fishermen in the Mediterranean Sea. Biological conservation 244:108531.