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Professional development in Conservation: an effectiveness framework

Loffeld, Thirza A.C., Humle, Tatyana, Cheyne, Susan M., Black, Simon A. (2022) Professional development in Conservation: an effectiveness framework. Oryx, 56 (5). pp. 691-700. ISSN 0030-6053. E-ISSN 1365-3008. (doi:10.1017/S0030605321000648) (KAR id:89032)


Contemporary conservation professionals are part of a workforce focused on overcoming complex challenges under great time pressure. The characteristics of conservation work, and in particular the evolving demands placed on the workforce, means that these professionals require capacity development to continually enhance their skills and abilities to remain effective. Currently, there are no sector-wide guidelines to promote systematic professional development that addresses both individual and organisational learning. This study builds upon existing knowledge from other sectors by examining professional development in conservation through an in-depth qualitative content-analysis of interviews with 22 conservation professionals, utilising a framework derived from the education sector. Results indicate how individuals’ motivation-to-learn, proactivity, and open-mindedness towards alternative information and views were considered preconditions for effective professional development. A balance between organisational goals and career ambitions was found essential to maintain this motivation-to-learn and vital for staff retention and preservation of institutional knowledge. Professional development plans may help distinguish between individual career aspirations and organisational objectives and aid a discussion on how to balance the two. Supportive leadership is fundamental to identify and mitigate any tension between people’s professional goals and programme priorities. Leaders have the opportunity to respond quickly and in novel ways to balance and address staff needs and organisational goals while working to remove barriers to effective professional development. Solutions to overcome specific barriers are discussed, to promote an inclusive approach for diverse learners through provision of opportunities, effective learning design, and resource-distribution for professional development.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1017/S0030605321000648
Uncontrolled keywords: Capacity, conservation workforce, human dimension, inclusion, leadership, learning, personal agency, professional development
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Depositing User: Tatyana Humle
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2021 14:47 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2023 10:50 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Loffeld, Thirza A.C..

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Humle, Tatyana.

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Black, Simon A..

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