Version of Record online: 28 MAY 2002
Volume 16, Issue 3, pages 573–574, June 2002
How to Cite
Meffe, G. K. (2002), Going International. Conservation Biology, 16: 573–574. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-1739.2002.01632.x
- Issue online: 28 MAY 2002
- Version of Record online: 28 MAY 2002
July 2002 marks yet another milestone for the Society for Conservation Biology—our first annual meeting in Europe. With our meeting in Canterbury in the United Kingdom, we will have taken yet another important step toward true internationalization of this society. This foray into the land of Darwin and Wallace, and so much rich ecological and conservation history, represents an unprecedented opportunity to further the causes of conservation globally, and it is incumbent upon all members to make the most of this occasion. Being long-settled and densely populated, Europe has unique conservation issues and offers challenges unfamiliar to those used to the relatively undeveloped lands of the western United States, Amazonia, or Australia, for example. With their long histories and deep ties to their landscapes, Europeans have much to teach the rest of us about conservation, human settlement patterns, and use of natural resources.
There has been a persistent undercurrent in the SCB that we are too “U.S. oriented.” This journal and the society at large have heard that message and have taken steps over the last several years to address this admitted imbalance. I have added more non–U.S. editors to the editorial board (we now have more than ever and hope to continue this trend), and we are publishing increasing numbers of papers from all corners of the world. The society now has developing international sections in Europe, Africa, Australasia, Neotropical and Austral America, and the marine realm, with plans for the other major regions (see http://conservationbiology.org/SCB/Activities/Sections/ ), and it seeks and supports further efforts toward internationalization. The trends are positive and encouraging, but of course are not by themselves enough. The membership needs to respond, individually and collectively, to recognize the importance of internationalization and help make it a reality. Individuals, through their behavior and choices, can reduce parochialism and provincialism in our field and promote conservation science globally. There are several ways to accomplish this.
First, we can all attend and fully participate in the 2002 meeting (see www.ukc.ac.uk/anthropology/dice/scb2002/ ). In particular, we can go to paper sessions we might not otherwise attend and engage in conversation those we might not otherwise approach. In other words, we can begin termination of “preaching to the choir” internally by extending our intellects and curiosity beyond our personal comfort zones into new realms. You don't know what is going on in Italian or Spanish conservation? What better opportunity than to go to those paper sessions and meet those people? You've not spoken with conservation biologists from Finland or Croatia and wonder what is going on there? Here is your chance to find out. Have you thought about doing some work in Europe or Asia but do not yet have a foot in the door? The door is now open, so use the opportunity well.
Second, the journal needs more good papers—especially editorials or other opinion pieces—from outside North America. I realize that some readers are weary of discussions of the U.S. Endangered Species Act or the influences on conservation of the U.S. political scene. They want to hear news and issues from elsewhere in the world, and so do I. But, alas, those manuscripts are rare. Therefore, I encourage editorials, opinions, and similar items from authors outside the United States so that we may highlight conservation activities—especially relating to the interface of science and policy—in other countries. The dearth in this journal to date is a result not of choice but of a lack of good material.
Third, you should consider sponsoring a member, especially one in a developing country. Our new sponsorship program (see the SCB website) allows SCB members to purchase a membership for those who, by virtue of their location and situation, could not afford to do so themselves. For what amounts to a trivial sacrifice for some, many good minds may be brought into membership status, receive this journal, and become part of the society, thus perhaps helping to further conservation efforts in new places in the world. Remember that many good but severely underpaid conservation biologists are physically and intellectually isolated in various parts of the world and would deeply benefit from a membership because of the feelings of connection and sense of community that it would bring. Fragmentation does not occur only on our landscapes, but also intellectually among like-minded individuals. Via sponsored memberships, we can all help to construct intellectual corridors to reconnect the scientific landscape.
Fourth, we must expand general membership in the SCB at every level. Yes, you can always read this journal for free at the library or borrow it from a friend, but membership involves much more than reading a journal: it represents a commitment to a greater purpose and a global community that transcends scientific papers. It means that you believe in the science of conservation biology and what it can do for a world deeply in need of the understanding and direction that this discipline offers. Our membership is still dominated by North Americans, and if we are to make significant strides in internationalization we need many more individuals from outside this region to make the commitment to this society. Until the membership base diversifies, we will continue to have a U.S. bias; the U.S. membership, after all, represents our financial and numerical base of support and the majority of manuscript submissions to this journal. If you are tired of this bias and want a more international society, then it is incumbent upon those of you outside the United States to become members and persuade friends and colleagues to join as well.
Not only would expanded membership make this a stronger and more diverse society, but it would help fund the many new and exciting initiatives the SCB is pursuing. The new Executive Director's office is quickly making the society run much more smoothly and effectively, and it should eventually have significant effects on legislation as we learn how to do a better job of bringing science to bear on policy. Our new international sections all need support, as do ongoing student activities and travel awards, efforts by the thriving Education Committee, the continued recognition of excellence through the SCB annual awards, and our ongoing development of “Conservation Biology in Practice.” This is a vibrant, exciting, and active society that needs broader support than it now receives.
The international movement is alive and well, diverse voices are being heard more often, and we have only seen the beginning of major changes in this society. The SCB Board of Governors, this journal, and many other individuals are pushing hard to answer the call to be a truly global society, but our eventual success ultimately lies in the collective hands of our membership. We the members and potential members of the SCB each need to do our part to achieve a more diverse and inclusive society. The July 2002 meeting in Canterbury will be an excellent place to embrace and advance these efforts, to learn from those of different cultures and experiences, and to become less provincial and more globally effective.