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Majors Making a Difference: Conservation Biology
Sarah Kuck, 22 Oct 08

Monitoring and Maintaining the Earth: Conservation Biology

This piece is part of a series on how universities and colleges around the world are integrating theories of sustainability into traditional majors to give students the skills they need to build a more sustainable future for all.

Where to Study: College of the Atlantic and Antioch University

schools_earthscience.jpg At the College of the Atlantic every student gets his or her degree in human ecology, but each gets to choose a focus area. Students focusing on Field Ecology and Conservation Biology learn about the interrelationships between organisms and the environment, and also about the impact of humans on those environmental relationships. Students are encouraged to build their own programs of study, pulling in courses from environmental politics and conservation policy to add perspective to the natural science track.

Another school offering conservation biology is Antioch University in New England. Graduate students in this program participate in projects like Natural Resource Inventory:

"The objective of this class is to develop skills that are frequently used to monitor or survey wildlife populations. Two bird-banding stations are operated during the summer months near Antioch New England as part of the nation-wide Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) program. These stations allow students first-hand experience with bird-banding, including how to safely extract birds from mist nets, use keys to identify age and sex, and record morphometric data."

Conservation biology integrates biodiversity protection and management with the principles and experiences from traditional biology fields. While traditional biologists might work in horticulture or genetics, conservation biologists often seek out work in fields such as ecology and natural resource management. Conservation biologists often take advantage of new technology such as GIS and statistical analysis to map out and analyze changes in biodiversity and species loss.
New fields of study like conservation biology, ecosystems services and environmental informatics are looking not only at the way the world works, but at how all species -- including humans -- are interdependent upon it.

Studying the world around us has intrigued those with a fascination for natural and social sciences for centuries. But global climate change is now affecting how and what many scientists choose to study. As the world rapidly changes over the next 100 years, we'll need earth scientists to monitor and assess how ecosystems are changing.

Check out this lively Worldchanging community discussion on where to study environmental science here.

schools_university.jpgMore Places to Study

Master's in Human Ecology at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow (The Centre for Human Ecology MSc programme).

University of Maryland

Lund University

Australian and New Zealand Conservation Laboratories

schools_book1.jpg Resources
For more information about conservation biology, visit the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington and the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University.

Images by Morgan Greenseth

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