The Student Conference on Conservation Science-New York offers several dynamic, interactive workshops for attendees. 

Workshop Session I

Making Decision Makers Do the Right Thing

Organizer: David Johns, School of Government, Portland State University; co-founder of Wildlands Network and Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

Abstract: When Bruce Babbitt became Secretary of the Interior he told conservationists not to expect him to do the right thing, but to make him do the right thing by bringing needed political pressure. This workshop focuses on how to do that by asking 3-4 participants to present a conservation goal they are working to achieve—protection of a species or a place, restoration, a change in human behavior that negatively affects biodiversity or ecological health—the strategy they are using and results so far. Presented one at a time, participants will then be asked to respond to and discuss a series of strategic questions designed to elicit step by step the tasks that must be accomplished to build the political support and pressure needed to achieve the goal. Too often conservationists take for granted existing power relationships rather than recognizing the need to change them, or they ignore questions of power all together, believing factual information will persuade decision makers whether they are national leaders or communities. By examining 3-4 cases with different goals the workshop will give participants experience in planning successful strategies—strategies which go beyond typical conservation approaches and use techniques that have worked to achieve a range of societal reforms against difficult odds.

Discovering Your Leadership Style

Organizers: Robyn Dalzen, Director, Conservation Leadership Programme, Conservation International; Christina Imrich, Program Officer, Conservation Leadership Programme, Wildlife Conservation Society; Julie Lewis, Program Manager, Conservation Leadership Programme, Conservation International.

Abstract: This hands-on workshop will encourage participants to reimagine what it means to lead. It will begin with experiential leadership exercises, followed by a group discussion of “what is leadership.” This segues into a conversation about the difference between leadership and authority which encourages participants to start thinking of all the ways, big and small, they can take actions of leadership regardless of title or position. In the second half of the workshop, the group will deepen their understanding of their own leadership style and that of others through exercises and journaling. Participants will leave the course with a new framework for imagining themselves and their colleagues as leaders which, ideally, will prompt them to take up more active reflection and personal leadership learning going forward.

Present Your Work...Visually!

Organizers: Nadav Gazit, Research & Production Assistant, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation & the Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners, American Museum of Natural History; Hara Woltz, environmental artist.

Presenting scientific data and information can be challenging, and using persuasive visual language is essential to getting your point across more effectively. A weak visual presentation can distract from quality research findings. Conversely, a clearly designed visual presentation will support your scientific findings and resonate with your audience. This 3-hour workshop on visual presentation of scientific research will focus mainly on posters and presentations, and will provide participants with visual tools to become better communicators. Following a short presentation, participants will be given guidelines and will work individually on materials they have previously prepared, with instructors circulating the room and assisting. The workshop will conclude with participants peer-reviewing each other’s work.

DIY: Crafting Academic Research for Conservation

Organizers: Megan Cattau, PhD candidate at Columbia University, student researcher at Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project (OuTrop), intern at Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR); Francine Kershaw, PhD candidate, Columbia University; Nicole Mihnovets, PhD candidate at Columbia University, graduate affiliate at the American Museum of Natural History; Maressa Takahashi, PhD student, Columbia University and graduate trainee, New York Consortium for Evolutionary Primatology.

Abstract: As young academics and conservationists, we often struggle to find the perfect balance between the theoretical and the applied aspects of our work. On one hand, you have to develop as a scientist in your home department and contribute to the larger body of knowledge on which your field is built; on the other hand, you are passionate about ensuring your work makes a difference on the ground. Although these different motivations for doing conservation-related research may sometimes feel like they run on separate paths, in this workshop we will help you figure out how to effectively forge intersections between them! We will discuss how to approach your research with conservation initiatives in mind: forming both theoretical and applied research questions in your research design, finding and maintaining partnerships with conservation organizations, developing a research topic with those partners, identifying the appropriate stakeholders for your work, and ways in which to effectively disseminate information to those stakeholders. This workshop will help you make a difference on the ground as well as progress in your academic field.

Workshop Session II

A Biocultural Approach to Conservation

Organizer: Georgina Cullman, Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, American Museum of Natural History.

Abstract: Interest in biocultural approaches is growing because conservation initiatives increasingly work with diverse local stakeholders to advance conservation objectives. A growing consensus in conservation practice posits that initiatives are more effective and sustainable when they explicitly integrate human needs and aspirations with conservation objectives. A biocultural approach takes as a given that human societies and the environment affect and are affected by one another in a reciprocal relationship, necessitating a holistic approach in conservation practice. This workshop will introduce the history, origin and application of the concept of biocultural diversity and will explore the implications of a biocultural approach for conservation project design, implementation, and decision-making. The workshop will address questions such as: How do you design a project that addresses biocultural diversity? How do you translate results from biocultural research into action? Workshop participants will evaluate existing biocultural projects to identify factors that lead to their success and will propose methods reorient existing traditional conservation projects to incorporate a biocultural perspective.

Making Your Work Matter: Engaging Stakeholders for Conservation Outcomes

Organizers: Tara Cornelisse, Science Editorial Postdoctoral Fellow, Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, American Museum of Natural History; Yiwei Wang, Postdoctoral Fellow, Save the Elephants.

Abstract: Want to increase the reach of your work beyond an academic audience? Ensure your research findings lead to management applications? If you are interested in long-term conservation outcomes and solutions, it is crucial to engage with important stakeholders, including local communities, land managers, non-profits, or government agencies. This workshop will explore ways in which conservation scientists have effectively engaged stakeholders through education and collaboration by examining case studies on an endemic and endangered beetle, regional-scale issues involving mountain lions and people, and globally significant human-elephant conflict resolution. The goal of the workshop is for each participant to leave with a tangible framework and strategies for including important stakeholders in order to extend conservation research beyond the ivory tower. Participants should come with a list of important stakeholders and potential entry points for interactions with those stakeholders in their work. We will work in small groups (3-4 people) to discuss existing strategies and brainstorm new ones tailored to your work. Finally, we will collect all ideas and share them through an online forum along with proven strategies from other conservation actions. You will leave with a clear idea and game plan with which to engage stakeholders in your system.

What am I Going to Do with the Rest of My Life?! Exploring Careers in Conservation

Organizers: Mary Blair, Assistant Director for Research and Conservation Planning, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, American Museum of Natural History; Alexandra Sutton, Duke University; Rae Wynn-Grant, Columbia University; Cynthia Malone, Columbia University; Elora Lopez, Columbia University.

Abstract: Interested in industry? Aching for academia? Never gonna give up non-profits? Pretty sure you're perfect for policy? Wooed by science writing? Then bring your curious self to our workshop, where we'll be doing some self-assessment activities, discussions of options in conservation careers, and small-group sharing about the challenges and rewards of the work we'd like to do. We invite senior scientists to speak about their experiences, post-docs and graduate students to group-share their goals, and undergraduates and high schoolers to discuss their developing ideas. All you need is a notebook, pen, and your creative mind – group activities, games, worksheets, and cookies are on us!

Expanding Your Teaching Toolbox: An Introduction to Active Teaching and Scientific Teaching Approaches

Organizer: Ana Luz Porzecanski, Director, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, American Museum of Natural History.

Abstract: In graduate school, most of us get a heavy dose of content knowledge, which is certainly important to our future work as academics or practitioners. However, many of us do not receive the same sort of training on how to communicate this information, whether in the form of teaching, running workshops, or organizing meetings. This workshop will focus on how active, student-centered, and evidence-based approaches can be more effective than traditional lecture-based approaches in promoting student learning. During this workshop, we will review the principles of scientific teaching, and discuss a number of tools for active teaching and classroom assessment. Participants will be able to practice application of some of these tools, and will take home a “toolbox” of materials and resources.