- 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:
Focus on Skill Development:
- 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