Vision, Values, and Goals
Our shared vision is to preserve nature for future generations of all life on Earth.
Hereafter Adrian writes on behalf of himself only as my associates, students, and colleagues mentioned on this webpages may not share my values in every particular.
Some ask how I can be a scientist and advocate for compassion for all life and legal standing for animals most recently (see 2018 paper 'Just Preservation').
All scientists advocate for our science including the process, methods, interpretations, and communication of it, even if they don't realize they are doing it, each scientific communication we make is advocating for our science. It seems the activist part of that advocacy is what most scientists are actually shying away from - the idea of being vocal in advocacy for science.
The other misconception might be the idea that ANY advocacy is biasing. But that myth has been debunked by several fields of scholarship proving that we scientists all approach questions (and how we answer them) with some viewpoint that shapes the questions we ask and don't ask, as much as the answers we emphasize. Therefore, subjectivity affects science and may create bias. The trick lies in reducing bias and making value judgments transparent. Beware of the scientists who do not make their value judgments transparent.
My values and aligned actions
I treat nature is held in trust for current and future generations of all life, with priority on preservation not on use.
I do not give priority to humans but rather equitable consideration of individual humans and individual animals as the situations and conditions demand. I believe animals should have legal standing in courts with constitutional public trust powers.
I believe youth, current adults, and future generations of humans have equal rights. (As a scientist with a visual disability, I have personally lived through injustice by the able. When I am not fighting for nature preservation, I support human rights and justice campaigns.)
I see democratic governments as empowered by the sovereign public to preserve nature and regulate its use as a permanent trust.
I value the strongest scientific inference using the highest scientific integrity. I see myself and other public scientists as having a duty to advocate for (a) the broadest public including future generations of all life, (b) for good governance, (c) for fulfilling the duties of public trustees, and (d) for the best available science.
We work towards our vision in several ways:
We work to hold governments accountable to the broad public interest for preserving nature, and regulating its use by current generations, as a trust for futurity.
To live up to our own obligations as public scientists, we conduct research, outreach, and education to support the broad public interest, while aiming for the highest scientific integrity.A note about advocacy and science
Sometimes scientists criticize each other for advocacy. All scientists advocate for our science including the process, methods, interpretations, and communication of it. Even if they don't realize they are doing it, each scientific communication we make is advocating for our science. It seems the activist part of that advocacy is what scientists most are actually shying away from - the idea of being vocal and out there in advocacy for science. The other misconception might be the idea that ANY advocacy is biasing. But that myth has been debunked by several fields of scholarship proving that we scientists all approach questions (and how we answer them) with some viewpoint that shapes the questions we ask and don't ask, as much as the answers we get and emphasize. So, subjectivity enters into science and may create bias. The trick lies in reducing bias and making it transparent if some remains. That trick is a work in progress for most (all?) scientists and we here have chosen transparency about our value judgments andor starting assumptions. See our transparent statement of value judgments here.. Beware of the scientists who do not make their value judgments transparent.
I see scientific evidence as the bedrock on which policy decisions should be made by all three branches of our constitutional democracy. Good decisions start with 'what do we know? and how certain are we about it?'. That's the bedrock. Then the ethical judgments enter the picture, reflecting our values and worldviews, to help us answer the question 'how should we behave toward others? And who are we and the others?'. This helps to answer why I engage with policy-makers in all three branches. The following is my current rebuttal to scientists who believe they are neutral and objective but others have an agenda because they advocate for democracy, ethics, or their evidence. I believe many scientists are fooling themselves and their listeners about the nature of objectivity. No one is neutral or perfectly objective – there is no perspective from nowhere, everyone asks questions that interest them and the answers we get to our questions depend on our values to some extent – but scientists are trained to be objective and place their own values as alternatives to other values, their answers as alternatives to other answers. That doesn't make us neutral but we are trained to be more objective than the average person, so at our best, we might overcome our own biases and support conclusions that our values seem to contradict.
Our offices at the University of Wisconsin–Madison occupies ancestral Ho-Chunk land, a place their nation has called Teejop (day-JOPE) since time immemorial. In an 1832 treaty, the Ho-Chunk were forced to cede this territory. Decades of ethnic cleansing followed when both the federal and state government repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, sought to forcibly remove the Ho-Chunk from Wisconsin. This history of colonization informs our shared future of collaboration and innovation.Today, UW–Madison respects the inherent sovereignty of the Ho-Chunk Nation, along with the eleven other First Nations of Wisconsin.