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Interdisciplinary training in environmental conservation: definitions, progress and future directions

Newing, Helen S. (2010) Interdisciplinary training in environmental conservation: definitions, progress and future directions. Environmental Conservation, 37 (4). pp. 410-418. ISSN 0376-8929. (doi:10.1017/S0376892910000743) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:28226)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided.
Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0376892910000743

Abstract

The development of interdisciplinary approaches to

environmental conservation is obviously related to

interdisciplinary training in undergraduate and postgraduate

conservation-oriented degree programmes.

This paper therefore examines interdisciplinary

training in environmental conservation, with a focus on

conservation biology. The specific objectives are: (1) to

analyse debates about the nature of ‘interdisciplinarity’

in conservation biology; (2) to examine the status

of interdisciplinary training in current academic

programmes in conservation biology; and (3) to

make recommendations in terms of interdisciplinary

or other non-natural science content that should

be prioritized for inclusion in the curriculum. The

term ‘interdisciplinarity’ has been used in relation to

conservation training to refer to (1) any social science

content; (2) vocational skills training; (3) integrative

or practice-based exercises, sometimes with no

indication of disciplinary content; (4) the (variously

defined) ‘human dimensions’ of conservation, and

(5) interaction between different academic disciplines

(usually crossing the natural science–social science

divide). In terms of training, the natural sciences

have remained predominant in almost all reported

academic programmes, but there now appears to be

more coverage of non-natural science issues than

previously. However the lack of consistency in the

use of terms makes it difficult to assess progress.

Further debate about curriculum development in

conservation would be aided greatly by recognizing

the distinction between the different aspects of

non-natural science training, and treating each of

them in its own right. Most degree programmes in

environment-related disciplines specialize to varying

degrees either in the natural sciences or the social

sciences, and a comprehensive programme covering

both of these in depth is likely to be problematic.

However, some understanding of different disciplinary

?Correspondence: Dr Helen Newing Tel: + 44 1227 827034 Fax:

+ 44 1227 827289 e-mail: H.S.Newing@kent.ac.uk

perspectives is increasingly important in a career

in environmental conservation, and it is argued

that, as a minimum, a primarily natural sciencebased

undergraduate programme in environmental

conservation should include: (1) an introduction to

social science perspectives on the environment; (2)

basic training in social science methods, research

design and science theory; (3) vocational skills

training, to the extent that it can be built into

existing curricular components; and (4) integrative

problem-solving tasks that can be used in relation

to any or all of the above. A similar list could be

constructed for social science-based environmental

degree programmes, incorporating somebasic training

in natural science perspectives. Postgraduate training

programmes are more varied in what they aim to

achieve in terms of disciplinary breadth; they can

develop students’ existing specialist expertise, offer

supplementary training to allow students to increase

the disciplinary breadth of their expertise, or focus on

the issue of interdisciplinarity itself.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1017/S0376892910000743
Uncontrolled keywords: conservation biology, curriculum, degree programme, human dimensions, interdisciplinary, pedagogy, review, social science methods, vocational skills
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2361 Curriculum
S Agriculture > SD Forestry
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Depositing User: Helen Newing
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2011 15:35 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:06 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/28226 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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