International Conservation Organization Rare Launches Center for Behavior & the Environment

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First-of-Its-Kind Initiative Will Facilitate Cross-Learning and Partnership Between Behavioral Science Thought Leaders and Conservation Practitioners in the Field

Today, Rare, a global leader in behavior science for conservation announced the launch of the Center for Behavior & the Environment, an innovative new initiative designed to bridge the gap between thought leaders in behavior change research and field-based conservation practitioners. By closing the loop between the science of human motivation and decision-making and the practice of environmental protection, Rare hopes the Center will serve as a catalyst for promoting widespread adoption of more sustainable behaviors.

“The most urgent environmental challenges of our time have one thing in common: to solve them, people have to start behaving differently,” said Rare CEO, Brett Jenks. “The Center for Behavior & the Environment will bring the best insights from behavioral science and design to bear on the greatest environmental challenges we face. It will also be built on the idea that learning is a two-way street—rather than only focusing on practitioners learning from the latest research, we want researchers to learn from bright spots around the world, where solutions are already working.”

Simply by re-designing solutions with a people-first mindset, behavioral sciences are already having a significant and positive impact on public health, education, and personal finance. The Center will work with partners to bring this sort of innovation to the conservation sector, exploring how emotional appeals, social incentives, and the way choices are presented to people can improve our ability to protect natural resources so that both people and nature thrive.

The Center is supported in part by the Palo Alto, CA-based Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

"Ensuring our ecosystems are healthy and able to sustain communities for generations requires influencing the way humans interact with them,” said Aileen Lee, chief program officer for Environmental Conservation at Moore. “We’re honored to support the Center for Behavior & the Environment, which will foster collaboration between behavioral researchers and environmental practitioners, identifying and sharing effective approaches to helping communities around the world sustainably manage their natural resources."

The Center will deliver on three core areas:

  • Showcasing bright spots. The Center will identify solutions that are already working and explore ways to scale and spread them to communities around the world. This approach is the basis for Rare’s annual Solution Search contest, which elevates the work of conservation practitioners in the developing world, who might otherwise go unnoticed.
  • Field-based learning. The Center will take science out of the laboratory and into the field, for the betterment of both. The Center will foster partnerships between leading research institutions in the U.S. and around the world, as well as luminary behavioral scientists and aspiring students at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels.
  • High-impact training and delivery. Through a designed training curriculum, made available on a virtual platform and accessible to a global network, the Center will empower more conservation practitioners around the world with state-of-the-art insights and position them to become transformative behavioral design strategists.

The Center’s Advisory Board includes:

  • Steve Gaines, Dean, Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, UC Santa Barbara
  • Roberta Katz, Associate Vice President for Strategic Planning, Stanford University
  • Aileen Lee, Chief Program Officer, Environmental Conservation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
  • Pamela Matson, Dean of the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, Stanford University
  • Kent Messer, Co-Director, Center for Behavioral & Experimental Agri-Environmental Research and Unidel Howard Cosgrove Chair for the Enivronment, University of Delaware
  • David Rand, Co-Director, Yale Applied Cooperation Team and Associate Professor of Psychology, Economics and Management, Yale University
  • Sarah Stein Greenberg, Executive Director of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (the d. school), Stanford University
  • Erez Yoeli, Co-Director, Yale Applied Cooperation Team and Research Scientist, Harvard University Program for Evolutionary Dynamics

Support also comes from the Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, which awarded Jenks the 2017 Rose-Walters Prize. The prize was established to “focus attention on the need to reduce the impact of human lives on the planet.”

The launch of the Center coincides with its first initiative—a field immersion and learning exchange in the Philippines at one of Rare’s project sites, where leaders in behavioral design and conservationists at the site will evaluate the use of behavior change strategies in protecting small-scale fisheries.

This fall, Jenks will undertake a residency at Dickinson college where he and the Center team will pilot a Center-designed short-course on inspiring behavior change for conservation.

Learn more about the Center for Behavior & the Environment at:

Ranked in the top 25 NGOs in the world by NGO ADVISORS, Rare is an innovative conservation organization that implements proven conservation solutions and trains local leaders in communities worldwide. Through its signature behavior change campaigns (called Pride campaigns), Rare inspires people to take pride in the species and habitats that make their community unique, while also introducing practical alternatives to environmentally destructive practices. Employees of local governments or non-profit organizations receive extensive training on fisheries management, campaign planning and social marketing to communities. They are equipped to deliver community-based solutions based on natural and social science, while leveraging policy and market forces to accelerate positive environmental change through programs in clean water, sustainable agriculture, and coastal fisheries. To learn more about Rare, please visit and follow us on Twitter: @rare_org.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation fosters path-breaking scientific discovery, environmental conservation, patient care improvements and preservation of the special character of the Bay Area. Visit or follow @MooreFound.

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Zach Lowe
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