Our program's unifying research theme is biocultural conservation, which integrates environmental philosophy, environmental sciences, humanities and the arts in the temperate, sub-antarctic region of southwestern South America. Today's pressing global environmental problems--climate change, biodiversity losses, scarcity of freshwater and other forms of environmental degradation--stem from cultural, economic and social causes and, therefore must be addressed by combined scientific and humanistic perspectives to achieve effective conservation and sustainable development practices.
Since the 1980s, leading social and environmental scientists have promoted interdisciplinary approaches to addressing complex eco-social problems, which have resulted in the development of interdisciplinary fields such as ecological economics and restoration ecology. These new fields have successfully generated concepts like "ecosystem goods and services" and "ecosystem health and rehabilitation," stimulating scientific research, policy development, and conservation strategies. In contrast, the integration of broader cultural and philosophical approaches into sustainable development, and conservation of biological and cultural diversity require new partnerships between ecology, the social sciences and the humanities. In particular, there is pressing need for the integration of ethical values and ecological empiricism, and its incorporation into conservation of biological and cultural diversity.