Closing the Loop: Expanding Our Approaches to Conservation Through Evaluation and Behavioral Science

Author: ORCID icon
Townsend, Allen, Civil Engineering - School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Klotz, Leidy, EN-CEE, University of Virginia

Objectives. I aimed to deconstruct the opportunities and challenges for increased adoption of state-of-the-art applied behavioral science among environmental program designers.
Methods. Focusing across decision makers involved in designing, implementing, and evaluating environmental behavior change programs, I engaged participants from 5 actor groups: environmental and conservation professionals, behavior change professionals, environmental policy and regulatory professionals, evaluation professionals, and environmental finance and funding professionals.
Results. Participants’ organizations are inconsistently gathering behavioral data. Although participants do not regularly observe these data in the environmental community, they do view behavioral data as useful to assessing or developing programs. Moreover, among those surveyed, environmental and conservation professionals had the least confidence in their capacity to use behavioral data in their work.
Conclusions. Integration of applied behavioral science into environmental programs is a collective decision and process. Cross functional approaches could help accelerate adoption. Examples include establishing communication channels across groups, identifying and promoting change agents, and expanding the disciplinary perspectives involved in programmatic decisions nearer to the start of the process.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
design behavior, environmental programs, behavior change, evaluation, conservation
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