Nick and Emily in Argentina

Training leaders

It’s a well-established trend that as people become more urbanized and more dependent on technology, they lose touch with, and care less for, the natural ecosystems which are the life-support system for millions of species including ourselves. Natural ecosystems are also the bedrock of human economies, health and well-being.

For too long, conservation biology training in the USA has lagged behind sustainability leadership in its willingness to embrace a diversity of thought, people, skill sets, and solutions. It has also been reluctant to embrace the ‘elephant in the room’ - that sustainability is difficult or impossible without changing the values that inform our economy, which skews human values and behaviors too much towards individual benefit rather than common-good practice.

Our graduate conservation leadership, internship and postdoctoral programs combine world-class mentors, diverse students, and practical engagement for a new vibrant, change-making generation.

In partnership with the University of Washington (UW) and others, we’re building on our initial efforts in conservation field training to expand a more ambitious, two-tiered program of conservation leadership:

  • a ‘science stream’ of field conservation biology, to support innovative conservation problem-solving and decision-making by science leaders
    • field identification and sampling methods
    • research project design
    • implementation and project management
    • analysis and uncertainty
    • team building and cooperative problem-solving
    • publication (scientific and popular), outreach and building impact in the digital media age
  • a ‘sustainability changemaking’ stream to support sustainability tipping points through organizational and societal change
    • organizational leadership and development
    • strategic planning and project management
    • coalition- and team-building, and finding common ground in divisive times
    • consensus seeking, negotiation skills and conflict resolution
    • policy analysis and translation
    • fundraising and investments
    • advocacy, neutrality, impact, and building a support base.

In both streams, both field-based and indoor group work, seminars, trips, “Conservation Cafés” and innovative means will challenge the thinking of students from diverse backgrounds over a 4-week period. This will forge stronger, more inclusive approaches and dynamic, confident, capable and skilled cohorts of graduates.

We will deliver a lively plate of joint course offerings to diverse groups. Diversity is important to us. Growing the constituency and skill sets for innovative conservation requires the participation of dialogues from across society – diverse cultures, backgrounds, perspectives and paradigms.

We plan to grow our team to include two educational specialists to help shape and deliver training through a national and international core of top lecturers, giving their time freely (or nearly so) and having their travel and other costs covered. This additional capacity may also help our partner organizations lever increased impact and outcomes.

Funding and process

We are building a small coalition of partner organizations, including the UW Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program staff and advisors to gauge interest, identify roles and responsibilities, undertake detailed budgeting, and start logistical planning.

In late 2017 we are approaching financial partners who share our vision that the world does not have to be this way, and that an empowered, insightful, coalition-building new generation can help change it.

Funding is sought for three years, after which course delivery would need to be self-sustaining with corporate support for scholarships and lecturers. We are developing a business plan for this.

Watch this space for more details, as this program develops! We will issue a call for applications at the appropriate time.