Place-oriented inquiry and practice are proposed as keys to overcoming the persistent gap between science and practice. This chapter begins by describing some of the reasons science fails to simplify conservation practice, highlighting the challenges associated with the social and ecological sciences of multi-scaled complexity. Place concepts help scientists and practitioners address the inevitably incomplete, plural, and uncertain character of all knowledge and suggest productive ways forward that not only embrace this pluralism but find greater efficacy and advantage in the multiplicity of context-dependent positions occupied by scientists and practitioners, each differentially shaped by individual life history. The chapter then highlights a growing body of literature in sociology and public administration that has begun to address the broad challenge of governing complex social-ecological systems. These emerging theories recognize that much of contemporary governance takes place outside formal government institutions and bureaucracies and involves increasingly complex linkages and collaborations among multiple public and private organizations. In governing complex systems informed practice can be conceived as guided by the emergent wisdom of networked actors and institutions governing complex systems, each informing one another in a collaborative form of rationality that operates both horizontally (place to place) and vertically (upwards and downwards in scale).
Williams, Daniel R. 2013. Science, practice, and place Chapter 2 . In: Stewart, W. P.; Williams, D. R.; Kruger, L. E., eds. Place-based conservation: Perspectives from the social sciences. Dordrecht, Germany: Springer Science Business Media. p. 21-34.