The center for creative conservation: fostering novel collaborations for regional sustainability

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Breslow, Sara; Lawler, Joshua; Olden, Julian; Wood, Spencer; Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (Seattle, WA : 2018)
Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.
Fresh Water Studies; Life Sciences; Marine Biology; Natural Resources and Conservation; Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology
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Broad environmental and social forces are affecting our regional ecosystems and impacting the communities who depend on them in diverse ways. Addressing these complex social-ecological challenges necessitates growth in the collective wisdom of society. The Center for Creative Conservation at the University of Washington is addressing this need by promoting innovative solutions to complex environmental problems through fostering collaborations across broadly diverse disciplines, sectors, and communities. We strive to learn and apply best practices of transdisciplinarity, meaning authentically engaging different modes of knowing toward novel and integrated ideas, methods, and applications. For example, we convene medical researchers with ecologists, urban planners, educators, and environmental justice advocates to understand how contact with nature benefits human health, and how we can design green cities, educational programs, and policies that simultaneously support conservation, health, and social equity goals. We support a group of Tribal researchers and community members, climate scientists, science communicators, anthropologists, and artists working to illustrate the consequences of climate change through filming a human-centered story about the effects of sea level rise on a Native village. We also support a group of archaeologists, ethnobotanists, Native elders, and tribal educators who are developing a program to reintroduce the Native land management practices of burning and digging needed to maintain camas prairie ecosystems. In these and other initiatives, we create and support opportunities for researchers, practitioners, and community members to share knowledge, generate cross-cutting solutions, build relationships, and collectively build social-ecological resilience. We are excited to share outcomes and lessons learned from two years of work, and look forward to engaging in new collaborations with our Salish Sea colleagues.