I’m Dr Jasper Montana and I’m an environmental social scientist currently at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Politics.
I’m fascinated by the relationship between humans and nature, and spend a lot of time thinking about how we could live better on our finite planet. I’m interested in how we find meaningful responses to some big issues of our age – climate change, biodiversity loss, sustainability – and how governments, businesses and local communities can make sense of and respond to these issues.
To do this, I am interested in the role of scientific knowledge in the development of policy making. My recently completed PhD at the University of Cambridge looked at the work of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a UN-sponsored expert body established with the intention of providing policy-relevant knowledge and policy-support to governments. This research used approaches from Science and Technology Studies (STS), a theoretical framework that examines the tangled relationship between science, technology and society in our contemporary lives.
In addition to academic research, I have worked for five years in television production and have researched, filmed and produced films for the BBC Natural History Unit. This work in documentary production gave me the opportunity to travel extensively and see first hand the diverse ways in which humans create meaningful relationships with nature around the world. This experience taught me that our planet is remarkable and that the way we choose to live on it is embedded in a deep history of evolutionary and ecological processes, cultural practices and diverse world views.
Making sense of this richness either for top-level policy, or basic day-to-day decision-making can be incredibly difficult. Seemingly stable concepts such as ‘science’, ‘biodiversity’ and ‘the environment’ are thrown into question and we often turn to experts, institutions and the media to provide meaning. My research focuses on how we navigate this complex landscape for policy-making and looks for productive outcomes to help shape our future world.