The Conservation Leadership Through Learning (CLTL) program is motivated by the need to train a new generation of generalist practitioners capable of responding to linked conservation and development challenges across the globe.
Generalist practitioners must understand the larger social and environmental contexts in which they work, as well as how to weave together partnerships across the public, private, nonprofit, and academic sectors. While many practitioners today have developed these leadership capacities over time, CLTL seeks to facilitate learning to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to enter the workforce prepared for effective action.
There are two versions of CLTL: CLTL Global & CLTL Mexico. Each offer a unique academic and field-based experience.
Both CLTL programs reside in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department in the Warner College of Natural Resources at CSU. The integrated coursework draws from three core disciplines including: natural and physical sciences, social sciences, and management and leadership. Recognizing that leadership qualities are heightened by exposure to diverse contexts, CLTL partners classroom learning with intensive field experiences in the United States and around the globe.
CLTL Global combines 9-months of coursework at CSU with 7-months of CSU online+ coursework, study abroad and field work at one of 5 different locations around the globe. The final semester is spent back on-campus where student groups write-up and defend their action-research project. This program leads to the MS in Conservation Leadership from CSU. CLTL Global starts each Fall of odd years (2013, 2015, etc.)
CLTL Mexico is a dual-degree program co-offered by CSU and ECOSUR. It combines 9-months of coursework at CSU with 3-months of coursework at ECOSUR, and 4-months of field work in Chiapas, Mexico. The final semester is spent either in Chiapas or on campus in Colorado, where students write-up and defend their action-research project. This program leads to an MS in Conservation Leadership from CSU and a Maestria de Ciencia in Liderazgo para la Conservacion from ECOSUR. CLTL Mexico starts each Fall of even years (2012, 2014, etc.)
CLTL is approximately a 2-year program based on a principle of “Leadership through Learning” which is achieved through 3 main components:
- Cutting-edge Concepts in Education: Traditional curricula in the sciences have generally focused on disciplinary approaches to subject matter and teaching. While critical for advancements in specialized knowledge, such approaches can hamper a systems view of issues at the interface of society and the environment. We have created a pedagogical approach to foster systems thinking by orienting coursework around real-world problems (rather than disciplines). Supporting this goal, field-based learning opportunities are woven into the program to give students experience with translating conceptual knowledge into effective on-the-ground action.
- Community: Addressing conservation challenges requires input and collaboration from diverse voices. CLTL students will form a collaborative learning community with faculty, field practitioners, and community members to share knowledge and nurture leadership skills.
- Cross-cultural Perspectives: Recognizing that conservation challenges transcend boundaries, cross-cultural perspectives and experiences are integrated throughout CLTL. Students from the U.S. and around the world will take coursework at CSU and abroad and will carry-out conservation projects at field sites in both Colorado and at our international field sites.
- Developing the Building Blocks for Life-Long Learning: We feel that being an effective, adaptive conservation leader requires a life-long commitment to learning. Through the coursework in CLTL students will develop the basic building blocks for leadership development for both their time in the program and as they transition from graduate school to the conservation workforce.
Conservation in Practice
The CLTL student cohort takes part in learning modules both in Colorado (year 1) and in the international field site (year 2). Students will be trained through a combination of learning formats with a curriculum that adapts to the site-specific problems where students carry out their field work during both years.
U.S. organizations and our partners from government, civil society, academic institutions, and local communities will participate throughout the program. Three main programmatic areas enable students to experience first hand how science can be used to guide the implementation of conservation/development action and inform policy:
On-Campus and Field-based Learning
Throughout the program students will participate in different learning formats that will enable them to acquire new knowledge, skills, and abilities, empowering them to address increasingly complex environmental problems. Learning will occur on-campus, in the field, through experiential & group learning opportunities, and through the CLTL web-based platform.
Ecological and Social Assessments
Students will participate in teams at project sites to assess current social and ecological conditions. These assessments will be carried out in coordination with local communities and conservation organizations. Information gathered will be incorporated into long-term conservation strategies for each location, ensuring that the work carried out supports already existing conservation programs.
Implementation of Conservation Action Research
Based on the results of the site assessments and through guidance from local partners, students will create proposals to guide the implementation of conservation action research. Projects will be selected based on their contribution to and support of long-term conservation efforts in the region. Activities will be vetted, monitored and evaluated by a local partners as well as the student's formal graduate committee. The program will create both on-the-ground conservation/development results and a new cohort of conservation and sustainable development leaders that are better prepared for the challenges of the future.