Social science perspectives of human-nature interactions in the Anthropocene

Published on
June 6, 2018

Together with Prof. Andreas Muhar and Dr. Anke Fischer, FNP researcher Arjen Buijs guest-edited two volumes on Human-Nature Interactions and their implications for Environmental Management.

These volumes include 16 papers from various social science perspectives that address current debates about Human-Nature Interactions in the Anthropocene and explore the manifold ways in which humans enact their relationships with nature.
A first set of six articles explores different understandings of, and values related to, nature. Innovative conceptual approaches are presented to investigate the human–nature relationship, including a conceptual reflection on scientific ideas of ecosystems and ecosystem services as expressions of human–nature interactions. A more holistic theorisation of human–nature connections as not solely cognitive but as emerging from relations between minds, bodies, culture and environment is among the suggestions (Raymond et al.; 2017).
A second set of six empirical studies examines stewardship issues, with specific focus on ways of engagement in activities that express a sense of responsibility for nature. They describe how Austerity, budget cuts and retreat of government further increase the need to mobilise non-governmental actors. Together, they suggest that although ethical considerations related to environmental values and engaging with society are important drivers for stewardship actions, personal and group identity, as well as direct, non-mediated interactions with the natural environment are crucial for in-depth and long-term engagements.
A final set of four contributions investigate the ways in which engagement in nature and natural spaces are governed in urban, peri-urban and rural areas. More than half of the global population now lives in cities and renaturing cities is an acknowledged goal in many countries. Urban and peri-urban areas are increasingly seen as locale for stimulating engagement of people with nature. Moreover, the urban context increasingly acts as a breeding ground for developing new modes of governance, including many examples of co-creation and active citizenship.
The full set of sixteen papers aims to contribute to understanding the societal changes in human-nature relationships, and invites us to further investigate the role of mediated and unmediated experiences of nature in the context of accelerating environmental, socio-cultural ad political changes around the world. More information