We’re not aiming too big, we just want to change the world.
Josh Robertson and Stefan Hunt (BSc International Wildlife Biology), have certainly been busy since graduating from USW in 2014. After finishing their degrees, they secured internships on different projects outside the UK, which circuitously led Stefan to a media job at the BBC and Josh to complete a MSc in Conservation Science at Imperial College London.
Their experiences working in nature across the World led them to found Conservation Conversation, a social enterprise dedicated to informing and exploring both positive and negative stories about science and conservation.
We asked Stefan and Josh what inspired them to establish Conservation Conversation. They explained:
"Sometimes science and conservation can be too serious, and it puts people off. We wanted to create something that’s relatable, easy to digest and visually stimulating to draw in more people and get them talking about important issues and the best solutions for these problems. Conservation is inherently interdisciplinary, and imagine the potential outcome if we had thousands of people from a range of backgrounds talking about the most serious and complex issues and developing solutions together – that’s the dream.
Furthermore, all the conservation stories we heard in the news were negative, and it can give the discipline a bad rep. We’d like to emphasise the good and show how we can improve the bad. People around the world dedicate their lives to save species, ecosystems and people’s livelihoods, but there’s often a focus on what’s going wrong rather than all the incredible things people have done. Also, these people are often wonderfully charismatic and have the most bizarre and interesting lives, but they go unnoticed. We want to share their stories with the world and give them the attention they deserve.
We’re not aiming too big, we just want to change the world. Sometimes we think conservation projects can be too small-scale, focussing on dormice rather than the effect of a changing climate. We want more people talking about the large-scale conservation issues and developing solutions for these together. Nowadays it’s not uncommon for a person to brush over something like climate change and pictures of thin polar bears on the remnants of polar ice. However, the effects of the climate crisis are perhaps only second to a global nuclear war; so it’s probably a good idea to do what we can now to mitigate these effects, and that means changing attitudes and behaviours. This is necessary for pretty much all the most pressing issues in conservation, but is surprisingly difficult and requires new and innovative thinking. We’re hoping that showing information in a visually stimulating manner, that’s supported by science, written or shown in videos in an easily digestible and sometimes comedic fashion, that we can reach out to more people and make a big difference. We’d like Conservation Conversation to be a global platform for this, where people visit because they enjoy learning about and discussing these things, and hopefully get a little bit of inspiration along the way."
Stefan and Josh met whilst studying BSc (Hons) International Wildlife Biology and graduated in 2014. They'd picked USW as their University of choice after attending an open day and hearing all about the exotic field trips that were offered as part of the course. They also felt that the Course founder Dr Roy Wiles gave a very
charismatic talk and instantly drew them both in with tales of South Africa and his
memorable love of water mites. Stefan goes on to say: "he instilled in us an attitude where we believed we
could achieve anything we set our minds too.
His charisma and belief in his students gave us the confidence to peruse
our dreams and create Conservation Conversation."
Both felt that the
course provided exceptional and unique practical fieldwork skills as well as
the theoretical knowledge to back it up, and that the trips they undertook to South Africa and Borneo were unforgettable.
We asked Stefan and Josh, what was next on the horizon for Conservation Conversation?
planning on expanding the website to create more sections to engage different
audiences and we’re currently in talks with several potential contributors to
further the existing sections. At the start of 2017 we’re also hoping to
complete our own scientific study in Honduras whilst creating a series of short
films documenting the islands incredible biodiversity and the people trying to
If you're interested in finding more, and would like to add your voice to the discussions on Conservation Conversation, then make sure you visit the website and follow Josh and Stefan on facebook and twitter - the more followers they get, the bigger the impact they can have.