award acceptance

Dean of the Graduate School, Jodie Hanzlik PhD, and Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department Head, Michael Manfredo PhD, accepting the Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education award from the Western Association of Graduate Schools.

The Conservation Leadership through Learning (CLTL) program began as do all great things, an idea jotted down on the back of a napkin.

A small group of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources faculty and staff decided that a new approach to graduate education was needed in order to prepare conservation leaders to address today’s complex challenges. They quickly expanded their group to include other University employees and conservation practitioners . This group envisioned a graduate program that could train leaders to collaborate across disciplines and implement leadership and management skills to build a sustainable future. They wanted students to participate in real-world, on-the-ground conservation issues and have a positive impact during their education, not just upon graduation. The very first conversations began in 2003 at the World Parks Congress in South Africa and then again in 2008 at the World Conservation Congress in Spain. These ideas came to fruition with the first CLTL cohort in 2010.


The founders of CLTL formed principles for the program that would set it apart from traditional graduate programs. Some of these principles included creating a learning community of students and faculty, establishing an inter-disciplinary curriculum, incorporating cross-cultural experiences, and combining on-campus and field-based learning formats. The program has evolved and adapted over the years; however, these founding principles remain at the core of what we do.

Adaptations & Changes

The CLTL program emphasizes adaptive management within the curriculum, and has applied this concept to the program itself. The two major changes include allowing Capstone Projects anywhere in the world and shortening the program timeframe. Both these changes were enacted to make the program more accessible – in terms of requirements, time, and finances – to a wider audience.


We would like to give a special thanks to those involved in the founding of CLTL:

*Thank you to those involved in the initial idea formation!

CLTL Vision

CLTL Visioning Session with Karina Mullen/ConverSketch (2012)