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Lauren Hawkins


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From ivory tower to prison cell: How can we bring conservation efforts to the public?

Conservation and other environmental movements have long been viewed as the initiatives of a select group of people. Rare, an international conservation group, seeks to change conservation policy by turning it into a movement that derives support from the public. As there website states, “conservationists must become as skilled in social change as in science; as committed to community-based solutions as national and international policy making.”

How can this be accomplished? The Sustainable Prisons Project in Washington State offers a novel approach to Rare’s mission. This project, a partnership between The Evergreen State College and Washington State Department of Corrections, allows inmates across Washington to participate in environmental education, sustainable practices, and science research projects. Learn more about this program at http://blogs.evergreen.edu/sustainableprisons/stories/prisons-with-nature/.

Creative conservation initiatives like the Sustainable Prisons Project help both the conservation movement and the participants of the program. How can we expand this project to other parts of the global community in order to fully bring conservation to the forefront of political and social discussions?


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    Jun 5 2012: The key to success in conversation science awareness (or whatever you want to call it) is to start implementing it into peoples lives at a young age. If they grow up with it the chance are it will be more successful since it will be the only way they know about. Where if you try to teach someone who is older lets say in their 60's they already know so many other ways for things to work in these situations it will be hard to teach them otherwise.
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      Jun 5 2012: I agree that we definitely need to work to improve education at a young age so that people can incorporate conservation into their initial understanding of the world. What are some way we can improve education and understanding now, even in people who have already left school?
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        Jun 6 2012: As far as educating older individuals of the public, I feel that we should be bringing more environmental organizations and environmental scientists into public forums. If we can get the scientific community and the general population in closer contact, and on a more regular basis, I think we can foster both learning and curiosity among citizens. Additionally, these public forums, be them public lectures or something else, could draw in multiple age groups and help us to span the age-gap that often forms in regard to the most current events.
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      Jun 6 2012: I completely agree that getting to children is one of the most important facets of change. It is a travesty in my opinion at how little is being taught in school. At the college level in a very progressive school, I hear about conservation, sustainability, etc. nearly every day in class but a lot of people rarely hear or think about it. If we educate the masses now, it should reap huge rewards in the future.

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