Curriculum Consortium

University Consortium Imagines Conservation Curriculum of the Future

Washington, DC — As part of its work to build the pipeline for conservation technology and innovation, Conservation X Labs hosted leading researchers and educators from nine American colleges and universities at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian to re-envision the conservation curriculum of the 21st century.

Alex Dehgan, CEO of Conservation X Labs, facilitates a group discussion.

Alex Dehgan, CEO of Conservation X Labs, facilitates a group discussion.

Spurred by inter-institutional exchange and faculty from a wide range of disciplines, participants of the mid-December convening charted a series of modular competencies and proficiencies that would prepare learners of all levels to address the scope and scale of problems the planet faces. With support from the Moxie Foundation, the Conservation 3.0 Curriculum Convening resulted in an interdisciplinary set of core competencies and proficiencies and an initial set of learning modules that educators around the world could adopt in their teaching and in the field.

“The field of conservation faces exponential problems with linear solutions,” said Alex Dehgan, CEO of Conservation X Labs & Chanler Innovator in Residence at Duke University’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative. “The future professionals of this field require a multidisciplinary, problem-oriented, and translational training that prepares them to tackle complex, wicked problems.”

Faculty pitch their group’s conservation curriculum core following inter-institutional exchange.

Faculty pitch their group’s conservation curriculum core following inter-institutional exchange.

The consortium of attending faculty and researchers represented a diverse range of disciplines including environmental science, ecology and conservation biology, biomedical technology, business and social entrepreneurship, and development engineering as well as a range of higher education and research institutions including the Smithsonian, Duke University, Arizona State University, George Mason University, Middlebury College, Georgetown University, Virginia Tech, William & Mary, the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the University of the District of Columbia.

“The Conservation 3.0 Curriculum Convening represented the spectrum of leading intellectuals and researchers that are pioneering this new movement in conservation education,” said Cassie Hoffman, Field Director at Conservation X Labs. “The varied disciplines each attendee brought to the table allowed us to not only think big about the future of conservation curriculum but also design specific modules that could be applied in any institution around the world. We are thankful that so many incredible field leaders shared their expertise and plan to continue this co-designing process in 2019.”

The results of an intensive curriculum co-design session.

The results of an intensive curriculum co-design session.

Attendees shared the work and perspectives of their institutions, developed a series of core competencies and proficiencies in breakout groups that were voted on by the broader gathering, and designed the initial learning outcomes, materials, and components of the selected “core” over the course of the full-day event. The selected modular “core” included Complex Systems Thinking & Analysis, Adaptive Human-Centered Design, Applied Implementation Sciences, Ethics, and Communications & Marketing.

Conservation X Labs, participating faculty, and their associated departments and schools will pilot learning modules in 2019 and explore opportunities to refine and iterate on modules and grow the impact of the Consortium. Interested faculty and institutions should contact Conservation X Labs at info@conservationxlabs.org to join the curricula co-design process and Conservation 3.0 Consortium.