Strengthening conservation's new generation

Partnership equips masters students with the skills needed to tackle today's conservation challenges

July 12, 2017

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Nelson Institute masters students enjoying a field trip to the Ice Age Trail – a thousand-mile hiking path in Wisconsin that highlights the state’s Ice Age landscapes. (Photo by José Narvaez)

 

The Luc Hoffmann Institute is teaming up with the Nelson Institute to equip masters students with the range of skills needed to tackle today's conservation challenges. With pressure on the natural world mounting, both institutes are committed to finding new ways of ensuring that conservation is relevant to society and has an impact. Modern environmental challenges require new kinds of knowledge, skills, collaboration and cooperation but until now, nature conservation has been led by the ‘traditional’ biological sciences.

This is why the two institutes are pooling their expertise to expand the capacity of conservation professionals. The Luc Hoffmann Institute team is delivering a new module to the Nelson Institute’s Environmental Conservation Master’s Program which trains conservation leaders in practical skills that span disciplines and connects Luc Hoffmann Fellows as ‘mentors’ to the Nelson student group.

The module will help students understand how conservation has evolved, explore the connections between science, policy and impact in the 21st century and consider new approaches to linking research and science to action. It builds on the Luc Hoffmann Institute’s Fellows Programme in which post-doctoral researchers work in multidisciplinary teams to develop research outputs in collaboration with WWF practitioners and others working on policy.

Through the Fellowship as well as tailored training, peer support and mentoring, young professionals gain a range of ‘non-traditional’ skills that underpin successful collaborations. These include negotiation and communication, trust building, project management and identifying new ways to ensure their research has an impact in policy and on the ground.

“Inspired by Dr Luc Hoffmann who believed that ‘Conservation is not the protection of nature against human development, but the preservation of life supporting systems and processes as a basis for a lasting development,’ our partnership aims to empower modern conservation leaders to turn this aspiration into reality, says Melanie Ryan, Capacity Development and Fellows Programme Lead at the Luc Hoffmann Institute.

From 2017 to 2018, the fourth cohort of 25 new students will attend the Nelson masters programme joining the 26 students (drawn from 13 countries) who are now finishing their masters project work before graduation in August 2017 and the 46 alumni now working in organisations around the world.

During the collaboration’s kick-off meeting last week, the Luc Hoffmann team also connected with the 2017 Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Fellows who participate in six weeks of intensive training in public management sponsored by the US State Department and hosted by UW-Madison African Studies programme.

Nathan Schulfer, who helps direct the Environmental Conservation Masters programme also leads the Nelson Institute’s environmental training components for the Young Africa Leaders programme.

“The opportunity to work with the Luc Hoffman Institute not only strengthens the academic training in our Master’s programme, it also helps us reach new networks of people globally, thereby allowing us to scale up the impact and reach of our work,” he says. “In turn, we can open our networks to the Luc Hoffman Institute, including the Young Africa Leaders Initiative, making both our programmes stronger together. The mutual benefits of new networks and partnerships are the foundation for our work with the Luc Hoffman Institute.”

This article was originally published by the Luc Hoffmann Institute.