About the Project
To help determine whether zoos and museums are successful in their educational mission, and to explore how this might be improved, the PhD student will run a series of studies to assess how emotional connection with animals impacts on the stance of adults and children toward nature conservation. The first project will look at look at whether educational messages have a lasting impact by contacting participants some time after their visit. The second project will ask whether people are more likely to show a concern for species that are portrayed as common (but not too abundant) rather than rare. The third project will look at the effort and involvement of the zoo visitors in their perception of the welfare and conservation of the animals; making it easier for people to see the animals, particularly when there are many visitors, might actually diminish the concern for the species and their conservation status. The final project will determine whether forming a connection with animals has an influence on the educational experience associated with seeing them. The research will explore the role of other-regarding concerns, as well as social engagement, as psychological factors that can influence the perception of animal welfare and conservation. The work will be of interest to PhDs wishing to pursue a career in conservation education.
Training/techniques to be provided:
The PhD student will receive training in surveying and interviewing, as well as experimental design and analysis. The PhD student will gain work experience in a museum and zoo, and will establish ties with those communities. The project will train social scientists and to advance knowledge of relevance to public service and policy, namely the educational mission of zoos and museums.
Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in conservation biology or psychology, with a preference being given for firsts (A). A masters degree with distinction or merit is highly desirable. Candidates with experience working with adults and children are encouraged to apply.
For international students we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences. For more information please visit www.internationalphd.manchester.ac.uk
As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.
Jensen, K. (2016). "Prosociality." Current Biology 26(16): R748-752.
Moss, A., & Esson, M. (2010). Visitor interest in zoo animals and the implications for collection planning and zoo education programmes. Zoo Biology, 29, 715-731.
Rennie, L. J., & Johnston, D. J. (2004). The nature of learning and its implications for research on learning from museums. Science Education, 88(S1), S4-S16.
Dunbar, R. I. M., Mac Carron, P. & Shultz, S., 2018. Primate social group sizes exhibit a regular scaling pattern with natural attractors. Biology Letters, 14 (1), 20170490.
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