Interview with the editors

We asked our Lead Editors Kai Chan, Robert Fish, Rosemary Hails and Cecily Maller to tell us why this new journal is timely and give us their thoughts on the papers they would like to see submitted.

– What’s happening in your field that makes this new journal important?

Cecily Maller – There is increasing interest in finding transdisciplinary ways of understanding some of the complex challenges of rapid urbanisation and biodiversity loss and moving beyond traditional, western or human centred approaches. This journal’s focus on encouraging debate to expand the types of approaches, concepts, theories and methods applied to human-nature relationships will provide an important new outlet for this work. With its interest in multiple methods it will also provide a home for rich, in-depth qualitative research that is often challenging to publish in existing sustainability and environment journals.

Rosie Hails – Our understanding of the relationship between people and nature has itself evolved, from one of impact and exploitation, to a more dynamic one of management to secure benefits. Increasingly we recognise humans as part of the ecosystem, not separate from it. Our future academic development of this field therefore requires drawing on the advances that have been made in many of the natural science, social science and humanities disciplines, creating a new more deeply rooted interdisciplinary community.

Kai Chan – There is increasing recognition of the crucial importance of interdisciplinary studies addressing the intersection of people and nature, but among the journals that have emerged most are quite narrow in some respect. More than ever we need a deeply interdisciplinary journal that spans the natural and social sciences, embracing a wide diversity of methods, perspectives and ideological positions. People and Nature offers just that, with a genuine open-access model from an eminent professional society.

Rob Fish The study of interactions between people and nature has been through many cycles of theoretical and empirical innovation, and each of these has its own version and style of interdisciplinarity. Across the environmental social sciences we are entering, I think, a highly dynamic cycle of innovation centred on notions of ‘co-dependency’, ‘co-construction’ and ‘co-determinacy’. The Journal will be an important venue in which this social science perspective is put into conversation with the theory and practice of ecological science.

Why should people submit to the journal?

RF – The Journal inherits the Society’s long-standing interest in promoting conservations and experimentation across disciplinary boundaries, and publishing the very best of current thinking. The interest of the Journal is to elaborate a new and ambitious field of relational scholarship, one that straddles the need for both analytical and interpretative perspectives on people-nature interactions, and bringing these perspectives together.

KC – Scholars and scientists should submit their work to get timely, reflective feedback from editors and reviewers, and to benefit from the broad reach of an open-minded high-profile journal.

CM – Scholars who are interested in engaging beyond their discipline, and outside of academia, should submit their work to this open-access journal to connect with like-minded others and to help consolidate research that is often out of reach or dispersed across a number of disciplinary specific journals. The journal will represent the cutting edge of research on human-nature relationships and will help shift current disciplinary-bounded thinking towards more transformative paradigms.

RH – This journal will be the home for high quality interdisciplinary papers, highly regarded across the natural and social sciences, and the humanities. It will occupy a unique place in this emerging field.

What kinds of papers would you like to see submitted?

RH – I would like to see papers that are genuinely accessible to academics across the disciplines, which represent significant new ideas, concepts, approaches and evidence. This will require clarity in communication, moving away from the discipline specific language that often creates a barrier to understanding for those outside the immediate field; yet at the same time maintaining academic rigour and novelty.

RF – I am interested in the submissions of papers that look to challenge and re-think prevailing wisdoms about the relationship between people and nature. I personally welcome contributions and interventions that inspire interdisciplinary scholars to assemble around new conceptual framings of these relationships, and develop new approaches to their empirical elaboration.

KC – I would like to see papers that I haven’t seen anywhere before, and papers that seek to break out of the moulds of traditional disciplinary thinking while maintaining a high degree of scholarly rigour. We want to see bold, thoughtful, innovative research, from all kinds of perspectives.

CM – I would like to see work submitted that challenges disciplinary boundaries and offers up news ways of understanding human-nature relationships. For example, this work may draw on indigenous and first nations perspectives, multispecies or more-than-human approaches. I also encourage experimentation with new methods and approaches that decentre traditional scientific knowledge and offer more democratic ways of making data and knowledge.