By Brian Lee
Claudio Campagna is an international scholar from the Wildlife Conservation Society in Argentina with a long history of repeated scholarly visits and research collaboration at UC Santa Cruz. His affiliation with UCSC began as a graduate student in the 1980s and now, as an adjunct professor for the Institute of Marine Sciences in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, his research focus is The Language of Conservation Project. This project, co-headed with Dr. Daniel Guevara, Chair and Associate Professor of the Department of Philosophy at UC Santa Cruz, began in 2008.
The Language of Conservation is an interdisciplinary initiative that seeks a radical change in the way we talk and think about the value of life in all its diverse, natural forms. The issue the initiative faces is that the language used in the current conservation landscape does not capture the detriment of extinction — Campagna believes that the most important problem humanity faces is the conservation of the diversity of life from its destructive capacities.
“We reflect on how conservationists evaluate the problem of induced species extinctions,” Campagna said. “We believe that language is critical to understanding the wrongs of pushing a form of life to extinction, we refer to the logical structure of language, not just the terminology.”
Campagna’s philosophical interest in conservation biology began after realizing that interdisciplinary studies were needed in order to promote new values for the conservation of living things.
“The future is interdisciplinary and focuses on the breaking of frontiers,” Campagna said. “Boundaries are placed by the intellectual problems we need to solve, and humanity has to be wise to break all barriers that make those boundaries stronger.”
That philosophical interest led to the project’s most significant accomplishment.
“We believe that the language of naturalists had a deep understanding of species and representatives. The language provides a logic that induces values to help understand what the primary needs of those forms of life are,” Campagna said.
The environment UC Santa Cruz provides has been fundamental to Campagna’s life as well as research. “[UC Santa Cruz] helped me develop a welcoming attitude towards intellectual challenges, encouraged creativity and a sense of trust in the capacity of the mind to overcome the unknown,” Campagna said.
More information can be found at The Language of Conservation Project.