Rethinking Ecology (Apr 2021)

Ecologist engagement in translational science is imperative for building resilience to global change threats

  • Kennedy Rubert-Nason,
  • AM Aramati Casper,
  • Matt Jurjonas,
  • Caitlin Mandeville,
  • Rebecca Potter,
  • Kirsten Schwarz

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 6
pp. 65 – 92


Read online Read online Read online

The causes and consequences of global change are well-documented, as are mitigation and adaptation strategies. However, human actions continue to fail in building adequate socio-ecological resilience to the accelerating threats of global change. Translational science, which focuses on connecting scientific research to human benefits, is imperative to building resilience to a confluence of global change threats because it brings the implications of theory and empirical research into practice. Translational ecology, an approach to knowledge co-creation that is grounded in equitable, inclusive, empathetic, and just partnerships among administrators, policy makers, scholars, practitioners, and the public, has immense potential to bring about the rapid and expansive social, ecological and political changes necessary to build resilience to global change threats. Here, we articulate a need for greater engagement of ecologists and other professionals in translational initiatives addressing seven major resilience building challenges, and propose a framework that lowers barriers to participation and promotes stronger relationships among stakeholders. We recommend specific actions that ecologists can take based on their situation, as well as evidence and demonstrated need, to foster resilience building through their contributions to communication, policy, education, knowledge creation, leadership, and service as role models. We conclude with an urgent call for expansive engagement of ecologists and other professionals in initiatives that combat misinformation, partner equitably with communities in knowledge creation, cultivate empathy and compassion, bolster public trust in science, and ultimately build decentralized communities of practice that enable rapid and high-impact responses to global change.