Focus on Skill Development:

Conservation science is fundamentally a problem solving endeavor; unique largely due to the unusually large and potentially complex contextual framework under which recommendations must be developed. At its heart, the basic approach is to: (1) use good science as a means of identifying and gathering information that may be critical to advancing insight and understanding relative to some conservation problem, and (2) use responsible, thoughtful judgement to develop recommendations for decisions or strategies. To accomplish these goals, conservation students must become skilled in at least four major areas: Students must acquire a solid grounding in natural sciences. Along with gaining basic knowledge in the natural sciences, conservation scientists must acquire skills and experience that will allow them to critically evaluate technical literature and rigorously attack research questions. In order to meet these challenges, conservation scientists must be exposed to the challenges of scholarship within the discipline of conservation biology and other disciplines directly related to their work. Skill development focuses on three major areas:

  • Critical thinking skills: the ability to search out, digest, and evaluate key elements of the scientific literature in order to fully assess the dimensions of potential problems and properly contextualize new results
  • Familiarity with basic field and laboratory research methodologies
  • Experience with analytic approaches used in digesting data and developing new predictions
  • Students must also develop the skills necessary in order to assess the potential economic, political and sociological impact of conservation decisions. This sort of "bigger picture" perspective and ability to contextualize beyond the boundaries of science itself requires exposure to a broad range of disciplines, particularly those in the social sciences (e.g., economics, sociology, political science and anthropology).

  • In addition, students must develop an awareness of personal aesthetic, ethical and moral values and how such predilections might affect professional recommendations and decisions. In addition, it is critical that conservation scientists work towards enhancing their own sensitivity as to how value systems may differ in other individuals and across different cultures.

  • Finally, students must come to understand the critical role for environmental education in preserving local, regional and global biodiversity.    

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