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Program Description

The Conservation Management Program began in 2008 when the Graduate Group in Ecology (GGE) was awarded a training grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The focus of this training grant was twofold. First, it intended to develop capacity within the GGE to better train doctoral students for non-academic job markets in applied conservation ecology. Over the past 20 years or so, ecology has witnessed growth in the number of doctoral-level professionals working for resource conservation agencies. Over 50% of our doctoral graduates leave UC Davis and enter a conservation profession outside of academic institutions. This pattern continues in the career goals and interests of our incoming students: they increasingly state that they want to work in conservation, but not necessarily in academia. It is our goal to re-tool our curriculum to better match the needs of these students who seek careers in the application of the ecological sciences to conservation management.

Second, the training grant was intended to increase the training of scientists from developing countries in order to build in-country capacity for biological management. Toward that end, The Packard Foundation Training grant directed substantial fellowship money toward non-resident tuition and fees for students from China, Ecuador, Chile, and Tanzania. Unfortunately, due to budgetary constraints, we are unable to offer fellowships for incoming students in 2010. The program's faculty trainers remain committed to offering conservation management training, in part because of the curriculum's popularity among all student participants. In our first year, more than 80% of participating students did not receive fellowship support from the program. Both international and domestic students will be able to work toward a certificate in Conservation Management in 2010 and in the foreseeable future, but as mentioned above, we are unable to award fellowships at the present time. Alternative funding sources for the Graduate Group in Ecology are provided here.

Our objective with a degree certificate program is to provide rigorous training in aspects of conservation management that typically lies outside the routine of a strictly research-based doctorate in the sciences.

  1. We will offer courses in conservation decision-making using the state-of-the-art software currently being developed by the leading international conservation organizations (Miradi; Ecosystem Based management Tools).
  2. We will encourage students to take courses in skills that they may need when they enter the workplace (e.g., scientific ethics, grant writing, business management skills).
  3. Finally, we will require that students establish a research program in collaboration with a conservation organization and partner with them to answer a research question of management relevant to that institution and their mission.

A degree certificate in conservation management would signify to potential employers that these students have undergone rigorous training in marketable skills that enhance applying their science to conservation management.

Academic Nature of the Program

Four tenets of successful conservation management lie at the core of this certificate program.

  1. A basic foundation in ecology is fundamental to developing the management and decision-making skills required to effectively manage ecosystems. This ecological foundation includes skills in statistics, experimental design, and quantitative ecology.
  2. Training in the social sciences of human ecology and environmental policy are required for conservation within the context of complex human cultures and stakeholder groups.
  3. Practical skills for decision-making, planning, and communication are essential for enabling scientists to step into leadership roles.
  4. Integration and application of these various skills toward real conservation problems should be part of the graduate school experience.

Our goal is to reframe graduate training around these ideas for students desiring a career in conservation management. Thus, we will require students to exhibit graduate level competence in ecology and quantitative methods as they would as members of the Graduate Group in Ecology. In addition, a three quarter core course series, described below, in conservation and ecosystem-based management will be required of all students. This course series will focus heavily upon the social sciences. Additional social science courses are recommended, but not required.

Program Participation

To participate in the Conservation Management Program, students must be admitted into an existing graduate program within UC Davis. Preferred graduate programs are those that provide students training in biological diversity conservation and management, including: Ecology, Population Biology, Animal Behavior, Entomology, Geography, Horticulture and Agronomy, and Animal Science. Students from other groups will be considered on a case by case basis.

In general, participation in the Conservation Management Program is not competitively decided. Because group projects and productive discussion are defining characteristics of our curriculum, we would like to limit the number of admissions to the certificate program to manageable 10-15 students per year. If demand and class space becomes an issue, program enrollment will be considered on a case by case basis. The focus of this program is to place students in positions outside of academic institutions. As a consequence, we will favor admissions toward those students who express a clear desire to work in the application of ecology to the management of biological diversity.

If you have further questions, please see our section on Frequently Asked Questions to see if it's answered there.

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