Andrew Gosler

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Dr Andrew Graham Gosler is Head of the Institute of Human Sciences at Oxford University, a University Research Lecturer in Ornithology in the Edward Grey Institute, Oxford, and Fellow in Human Sciences at Mansfield College, Oxford. He holds degrees in Environmental Biology, Plant Taxonomy and Ornithology, and for nearly 30 years has studied aspects of the evolution and ecology of the Great Tit population of Wytham Woods. His research has focused on aspects of adaptation through evolution to environmental change. An experienced bird ringer or bander, having chaired the Ringing Committee of the British Trust for Ornithology, his work in training students and post-doctoral researchers in bird handling and ringing (banding), which involves the capture, mark and release of wild birds while minimizing the impact of this as far as possible, has led to a deep concern for animal welfare and the ethics of animal research, both in the laboratory and field. He sees this chiefly as a need to instill in researchers a sense of the responsibility that they have for the welfare of animals in their 'care' (however temporary that might be), and a sense that they are privileged to be able to work at lose quarters with wild animals; he serves as Vice-Chair of the Ethical Review Committee of Oxford University's Zoology Department, where he has special responsibility for birds.

He came to Human Sciences through lecturing in Evolution and Ecology, and saw the potential for this diverse field to make a significant contribution to conservation through the integration of social and anthropological study with environmental studies and ethics. As a result, he developed a successful Honours option in Biological Conservation within the Human Sciences programme at Oxford. He sees ethics as a central motivating pillar of both animal welfare and conservation action, but argues that the utilitarian ethics of secular atheism that form the basis of much modern thinking in these fields ultimately offer a poor ground for a working ethical framework, when compared with traditional, e.g. Biblically-based ethics which state categorically that the Earth is not ours, that we did not create it and we can never own it, that we are of the Earth, that we are, and can only ever be, temporary stewards of the Earth, and that, as we are coming to understand through the issue of climate change, poor stewardship has consequences which we recognize as a crisis (judgment). He holds the Tucker Medal of the British Trust for Ornithology, and is a former Editor of the journals Bird Study, and Ibis. He is a member of the International Committee of the International Ornithological Congress, and of the Scientific Committee of the European Ornithologists' Union.


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