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Philosophy Speakers: Shelley Alexander (Geography, UCalgary), "Through Coyote Eyes"

Date & Time:
October 30, 2015 | 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Location:
Social Sciences Building, Room 1253

About the Talk

To 'see' through coyote eyes is to be awakened. Revered, reviled, or loved, one coyote is killed every minute in North America, making this the most persecuted carnivore species on the continent and offering a unique lens into the sometimes perverse world of animal conservation science and practice. I weave examples of coyote (and wolf) research and management into a description of types and character of ethical dilemmas that arise, particularly in academia and publishing. I explore how the dominant scientific approach (reductionist-positivist methods, limited metrics of suffering, and denial of situational factors) permits gross animal welfare violations in the name of science. In its worst expression, its apologists argue that statements of ethical position and philosophy are simply 'emotional' and irrational -- they have no place in objective science. Borrowing from the work of E.O. Wilson, I suggest that a re-'consilience' of wildlife management sciences, critical animal studies, and philosophy may reduce the 'enabling' of animal welfare violations. I ask for discussion on the experiences and possibilities of re-embedding critical thinking and philosophy of science into all wildlife education (and vice versa), animal handling protocols, and professional activities.

About the Speaker

Shelley Alexander is Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Calgary where she leads the Canid Conservation Science Lab (http://www.ucalgary.ca/canid-lab). Her research focuses on carnivore conservation and spatial ecology, conservation GIS, and habitat fragmentation and road ecology. In 2005, Shelley launched The Calgary Coyote Project, studying regional urban and rural coyote ecology and human-coyote conflicts across Canada. The Foothills Coyote Initiative, funded since 2014 by SSHRC, now encompasses Calgary and the foothills parkland natural region surrounding the city, and seeks to understand human-coyote relationships. She has been a principal investigator and/or collaborator on several other projects, including The Raincoast Wolf Project, the Swift Fox Critical Habitat Project, the Calakmul Road Effects Project (Yucatan), and the Painted Dog Trust (Zimbabwe). She is a member of the Science Advisory Board for Project Coyote (USA). http://www.projectcoyote.org/contact.html 

Shelley Alexander's UCalgary webpage

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