Avoiding polarization in science policy is next topic in campus Love of Learning series

Written by John Christensen on |
Dr. Scott Walter
Dr. Scott Walter

When it comes to the natural world, and our stewardship of it, consensus requires compromise. That’s the subject of the next spring 2023 Love of Learning lecture at UW-Platteville Richland. On Monday, April 24 at 7 p.m., Dr. Scott Walter brings his decades of experience as a wildlife ecologist to the Pippin Conference Center on campus, in a free public presentation and discussion he is calling “Getting Back to Center – Depolarizing Wisconsin’s Natural Resource Policies.”   

In the decades since he first taught at Richland, from 1999-2010, Walter has also spent considerable time working with different conservation and advocacy groups, as well as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Frequently, he says, discussions on wildlife and land use policy ended up divisive, rather than collaborative.  

“Too often we apply labels – to ourselves, as well as others – and so we enter a discussion already polarized, which leaves very little room for any actual science to sway anyone,” said Walter. 

Using the state’s policy on controlling the wolf population as an example, Walter hopes to shine a light on how too many discussion and policy decisions that should be moving toward an informed balancing of priorities – with evidence and scientific expertise leading the way – never really shift any stakeholders from their starting point.  

‘We can’t enter the conversation thinking we have a monopoly on the truth, no matter what else we may hear,” said Walter. “We need to listen, and learn from each other, to make the best decisions.” 

The free Love of Learning lecture series is sponsored by the Richland County Campus Foundation.