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Whitaker Ideas Forum: Elaine Williams, Conceptualising Conservation Volunteering in the Burren
September 20 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Speaker(s): Elaine Williams
Affiliation: Environment, Development and Sustainability Research Cluster
Organised by: Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change, NUI Galway
The Fall 2017 Whitaker Ideas Forum series continues on 20 September with a seminar by Elaine Williams of the Environment, Development and Sustainability research cluster on the topic of ‘Conceptualising Conservation Volunteering in the Burren‘.
Conservation volunteering (CV) is often considered an opportunity for environmental activists to come together, engage in conservation practices and ‘give something back’ to their landscapes and eco-systems. In exploring this perception, the seminar aims to unpack questions surrounding the complex engagement stemming from CV through the lens of volunteer experiences. Focusing on the Burren region in the West of Ireland, the seminar will examine the role civil society organisations play both in encouraging engagement within and across the unique karst landscape, and facilitating the emergence of a community of volunteers. In particular, the seminar will explore the multifaceted nexus between civil society perceptions of CV and personal volunteer insights, producing a conceptualisation of volunteering that stems far beyond a conservation strategy. Learning from the life stories of conservation volunteers and using Bourdieu’s (1985, 1986) theory of ‘Habitus’, this presentation addresses questions of volunteer agency and social capital within the Burren. While recognising the opportunities CV presents for enhanced wellbeing and an increased sense of belonging (Guiney, 2009), this paper remains cognisant to the volunteer’s role in developing and consolidating a conservation agenda.