Enhancing Social Science Collaborations

To truly explore the way the world works, scientists, authorities and the general public increasingly recognize the need to integrate the social and ecological dimensions of ecosystems. Therefore, OSARA actively promotes such collaborations, but historically there has been a crucial capacity gap in the social sciences due to a lack of researchers in southern Patagonia. Now, Dr. Laura Ogden (anthropology, Florida International University, USA) and Dr. Brendon Larson (social dimensions of natural sciences, Waterloo University, Canada) have begun pilot projects in Tierra del Fuego. Specifically, the two participated with Dr. Christopher Anderson, of OSARA, in a field excursion during December 2011, coordinated by Ciencia Austral, to get a first hand experience of the island, its landscapes, flora/fauna and people. During this time the team was also able to discuss potential projects and develop ideas for collaborations between the U.S., Canada, Chile and Argentina. Initially, Dr. Ogden intends to study the relationship of ranchers and ranch hands with nature, while Dr. Larson is more broadly interested in future comparisons between this high latitude biome and his own in Canada. Besides OSARA and Ciencia Austral, Dr. Ogden’s project involves the collaboration of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which manages the Karukinka Natural Park. Together with WCS, Dr. Ogden also is developing a science/art project with a Santiago-based museum curator. We look forward to continuing this initial pilot project and developing better and stronger relationships between social and natural scientists and academia and local communities.