Ecological Science and Practice: Dialogues Across Cultures and Disciplines

  • Sharon E. KingslandEmail author
Part of the Ecology and Ethics book series (ECET, volume 2)


Promoting earth stewardship entails re-examining economic arguments, such as the “tragedy of the commons” logic, which are coercive, out of step with cultural values, and often lack empirical support. A counter-example is the effort by Chesapeake Bay watermen to resist privatization of the commons, while adopting an alternative strategy more in keeping with their cultural values. Creating trust between scientists and watermen has been difficult, however. Research from the social sciences, notably by the late Elinor Ostrom and colleagues, and William Burch Jr., suggests that human ecology can be developed in a way that is more attuned to human values. Citizens have important roles in fostering good stewardship when they can mobilize support, as illustrated in Jane Jacobs’s writing about urban communities, and by citizen-led creation of a nature reserve in Toronto, Canada. Two challenges in promoting earth stewardship are to create trust between scientific experts and resource users, and to create an academic culture that values interaction between scholarly disciplines.


Biocultural conservation Common-pool resources Ecological economics Tragedy of the commons Urban ecology 


  1. Brooks WK (1996) The oyster: a popular summary of a scientific study. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore\LondonGoogle Scholar
  2. Burch WR Jr (1971) Daydreams and nightmares: a sociological essay on the American environment. Harper and Row, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Carley J (1998) The Leslie street spit. Friends of the spit website, page About FOS. Accessed 15 May 2014
  4. Chapin FS III, Cochran P, Huntington OH et al (2013) Traditional knowledge and wisdom: a guide for understanding and shaping Alaskan social-ecological change. In: Rozzi R, Pickett STA, Palmer C et al (eds) Linking ecology and ethics for a changing world: values, philosophy and action. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 49–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Courval J (1990) Friends of the spit: the greening of a community-based environmental group. In: Gordon D (ed) Green cities: ecologically sound approaches to urban space. Black Rose Books, Montreal, pp 243–254Google Scholar
  6. Greer J (2003) A life among the watermen. Chesapeake Quart 2(3):3–14Google Scholar
  7. Hardin G (1968) The tragedy of the commons. Science 162:1243–1248CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Jacobs J (1961) The death and life of great American cities. Random House, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Keiner C (2001) Chesapeake. In: Miller C, Cioc M, Showers K (eds) History in dispute. Water and the environment since 1945: global perspectives, vol 7. St. James Press, Detroit, pp 40–50Google Scholar
  10. Keiner C (2009) The oyster question: scientists, watermen, and the Maryland Chesapeake Bay since 1880. University of Georgia Press, Athens\LondonGoogle Scholar
  11. McDonnell MJ, Pickett STA (eds) (1993) Humans as components of ecosystems: the ecology of subtle human effects and populated areas. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. National Research Council (1986) Proceedings of the conference on common property resource management, April 21–26, 1985. National Academy Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  13. Ostrom E (1990) Governing the commons: the evolution of institutions for collective action. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ostrom E (2010) Beyond markets and states: polycentric governance of complex economic systems. In: Grandin K (ed) Les prix Nobel: the Nobel prizes 2009. Nobel Foundation, Stockholm, pp 408–444Google Scholar
  15. Pickett STA, Burch WR Jr, Dalton SE et al (1997) A conceptual framework for the study of human ecosystems in urban areas. Urban Ecosyst 1:185–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Poteete A, Janssen MA, Ostrom E (2010) Working together: collective action, the commons, and multiple methods in practice. Princeton University Press, Princeton\OxfordGoogle Scholar
  17. Rozzi R (2013) Biocultural ethics: from biocultural homogenization toward biocultural conservation. In: Rozzi R, Pickett STA, Palmer C et al (eds) Linking ecology and ethics for a changing world: values, philosophy, and action. Springer, Dordrecht\Heidelberg\New York\London, pp 9–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Wennersten JR (2001) The Chesapeake: an environmental biography. Maryland Historical Society, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.History of Science and Technology DepartmentJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

Personalised recommendations