Title page for ETD etd-05082002-112645

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Robertson, David Porter
Author's Email Address porterdr@vt.edu
URN etd-05082002-112645
Title Public Ecology: Linking People, Science, and the Environment
Degree PhD
Department Forestry
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Barrow, Mark V. Jr. Committee Co-Chair
Hull, Robert Bruce IV Committee Co-Chair
Angermeier, Paul L. Committee Member
Luke, Timothy W. Committee Member
Miller, Patrick A. Committee Member
  • public participation
  • biocultural ecology
  • human ecosystems
  • citizen science
  • nature
Date of Defense 2002-04-19
Availability unrestricted
Truly unique and innovative solutions are needed to resolve today's complex and controversial environmental issues (e.g., biodiversity loss, global warming, cultural evolution, etc.). In response to these concerns, a variety of applied science programs have emerged to help people make better decisions about the environment. Each of these programs (e.g., conservation biology, restoration ecology, sustainable forestry, environmental toxicology, and others) produces specialized knowledge that is used to achieve specific social and environmental goals. For example, the peer-reviewed, scientific analyses published in Conservation Biology are most likely concerned with the goal of preserving biological diversity, whereas the equally scientific and respected analyses published in Forest Science are most likely concerned with the goal of sustaining timber yields. Likewise, studies in environmental toxicology investigate risks to human health by environmental pollutants, while stud! ies in ecological restoration serve to maximize the integrity of natural systems. Unfortunately, these diverse forms of knowledge offer multiple and often conflicting ways of thinking about the environment. Public ecology is a response to this dilemma. The primary goal of public ecology is construct common ground between people's diverse beliefs and values for the environment. Toward this end, public ecology is an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to environmental science and politics. Public ecology integrates perspectives from the social and natural sciences, the humanities, and public understandings of the environment. Public ecology is not only a cross-cultural and comparative form of environmental studies, it is also a citizen science that encourages all concerned stakeholders to participate with research specialists, technical experts, and professional decision-makers in developing creative solutions to persistent environmental problems.

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