Minor in Conservation Leadership

Overview (print)


  1. Overview
  2. Program Structure
  3. Learning Outcomes
  4. Elective Courses
  5. Internships
  6. Courses
  7. Rationale
  8. Contacts
  9. Announcements


The Interdisciplinary Minor in Conservation Leadership focuses on conservation solutions in the context of our quickly changing planet. A goal of this new program is to develop the next generation of conservation leaders with the ability to critically review underlying paradigms and to initiate paradigm shifts where they are needed to address the challenges of sea level rise and climate change in conservation roles, such as in local, state and federal agency and non-profit sectors. The core of this 15-credit minor is built around two courses on Adaptation Studies and Sustainability Leadership. The Sustainability Leadership course is a Service Learning (SL) course that requires travel for fieldwork. Two additional courses are electives, which can be selected across disciplines to suit a wide-range of conservation interests. An internship is the capstone of this minor.

Note that there is also a Graduate Certiciate in Conservation Leadership that is taught together with the Minor and facilitates interactions of undergraduate and graduate students.


The Minor requires fifteen (15) credits, which are distributed over five 3-credits courses:
  • I. Core Courses
    • IDS466W Mitigation and Adaptation Studies
    • IDS467 Sustainability Leadership (Service learning class)
  • II. Electives
    • Two elective Courses (for details see below)
  • III. Internship
    • IDS 369 Internship in Conservation Leadership (for details see below)


Graduates of this interdisciplinary minor will understand uncertainties in projection of climate and sea level and be able to develop foresight. They will possess the ability to identify assumptions and paradigms that are the basis of decision making, and to initiate shifts in those paradigms if needed, using a systems approach to address the complex challenges posed by climate change and sea level rise.


The electives should be selected to extend the leadership-focused contents of the core courses. SL indicates that the course is a service learning course.

  • BIOL 404 Conservation Biology
  • GEOG 305 World Resources
  • GEOG 419 Spatial Analysis of Coastal Environments
  • ENVH 301 Environmental Health
  • HLSC 405 Interprofessional Study Abroad on Global Health (SL)
  • PRTS 405 Outdoor Recreation
  • PRTS 433 Camp Administration
  • PRTS 406 Outdoor Leadership & Environmental Education
  • OEAS 310 Global Earth Systems
  • PAS 300 Foundations of Public Service
  • PAS 301 Ethics, Governance and Accountability (SL)
  • PAS 409 Leadership and Cultural Competence
  • PAS 411 Multi-Sector Partnerships for Public Service
  • POLS 335 Environmental Politics
  • POLS 401 Global Environmental Policy
  • POLS 455 The Politics of Climate Change
  • PHIL 344E Environmental Ethics
  • WMST 395 Women, the Environment and Climate Change


The intership is conducted in the course IDS 369. For most updated information consult the most recent version of IDS 369 (currently Summer 2019). Students who want to register for this course first need to contact the instructors Eddie Hill (ehill at odu.edu) and Hans-Peter Plag (hpplag at odu.edu). To submit an inquiry, please fill in the Internship Inquiry Form and send it to the together with a resume to the instructors.

Prerequisite for the internship is a successful participation in the two mandatory courses with grades equal to or better than B.

The intership requires to work for 200 hours at a host institution. Host institutions are preferably at different facilities of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Opportunities are at local facilities and facilities distributed throughout the country. Part-time options may be available for those students who cannot work a fulltime 40-hour week. After submission of the application, an interview will be scheduled with the advisors to ensure that there is an optimal match between the host, project, location, etc. and the students interests and qualifications.

The internship will focus on a "real-world issue" that constitutes a leadership challenge in conservation. The student is expected to use the concepts of adaptation science to analyse the issue and to develop options of how to address the issue. The student will be mentored in the context of IDS 369 and will have a dedicated supervisor at the host institution. Weekly reports and weekly skype conversations of mentor and student will ensure that the mentor can provide guidance and support the student, if needed.

The up-to-date list of deliverables is available at the IDS 369 page.

There will be financial support for the internship, including travel costs, lodging, per diem for food, and insurance fees. The availability of funding is depending on economic needs and academic standing. A GPA of 3.0 is required to be eligible for funding. A form to request financial support is available on the most recent internship class page.


[2018/02/09 - updated on 2018/08/09] Internship Opportunities

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has partnered with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) for the FWS Directorate Resource Assistant Fellows Program (DFP). DFP in 2018 provided undergraduate rising seniors and graduate students who are interested in conservation or other related careers with a full-time, 11-week opportunity that supports FWS conservation priorities. Undergraduate rising seniors and seniors who had not yet completed their degree requirements prior to the completion of their fellowship were eligible to apply for all 55 projects. Graduate students were eligible to apply for 8 of the projects. Projects included 43 biology or fisheries projects, 12 outreach or human dimensions projects, and 3 in other fields. Participation in the DFP will offered the selected fellows an opportunity to demonstrate to supervisors and managers their potential for success. For more information about the DFP program and future opportunities, please visit the DFP webpage at https://www.fws.gov/workforwildlife/dfp.html.

[2017/12/14] An InsideODU article reports in the Service learning experience in 2017. Read the article ...

[2016/10/21] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service visited ODU to inform students about job and internship opportunities


Interested in this minor? Please contact:
Dr. Tatyana Lobova,
Department of Biological Sciences, Interdisciplinary Minor Coordinator, tlobova at odu.edu


Current Courses

The two mandatory courses for the Minor in Conservation Leadership are available in Spring 2019 and the first session in the Summer 2019 term:

  • IDS/BIOL/OEAS 466W: Mitigation and Adaptation Studies. This course is offered in Spring Terms.
  • IDS/BIOL/OEAS 467: Sustainability Leadership. This course is being offered in Summer sessions 1 as a Service learning course.
  • IDS 369: Internship in Conservation Leadership. This course is being offered in Spring and Fall terms as well as the 2nd Summer term.

Web Pages of previous courses

  • Summer 2018 session 2: IDS 369 Conservation Leadership Internship; see course page for details.
  • Summer 2018 session 1: BIOL/OEAS 467: Sustainability Leadership; see course page for details.
  • Spring 2018: IDS/BIOL/OEAS 466: Mitigation and Adaptation Studies; see course page for details.
  • Fall 2017: IDS 368 Internship; see course page for details.
  • Summer 2017 session 2: IDS 368 Internship; see course page for details.
  • Summer 2017 session 1: BIOL/OEAS 495: Sustainability Leadership; see course page for details.
  • Spring 2017: IDS/BIOL/OEAS 466: Mitigation and Adaptation Studies; see course page for details.
  • Fall 2016: IDS/BIOL/OEAS 466: Mitigation and Adaptation Studies; see course page.


A minor in Conservation Leadership with a strong service-learning component has the potential to help spread knowledge about conservation issues to students across campus, and will offer opportunities to engage in service-learning projects that address key conservation issues. There is a growing need to educate a workforce that can lead the design and implementation of adaptive conservation programs that are resilient with respect to the impacts on natural resources of climate change and sea level rise. Leadership in conservation is particularly challenged by the need to review underlying paradigms and to initiate paradigm shifts where needed. The interdisciplinary minor in Conservation Leadership seeks to provide students with a greater depth of experience and understanding of the role that integrated natural science and social science can play in developing conservation policy, especially under the circumstances of a changing climate and environment. This interdisciplinary minor offers an integrated approach to managing natural resources from a coupled human-ecological perspective, and addresses the diverse biological, physical, social, economic, and political aspects of natural resources management, community resilience, and stewardship.

This interdisciplinary minor in Conservation Leadership was developed by Old Dominion University in collaboration with the US Fish and Wildlife Service as part of a long-term, sustainable program of conservation-related service-learning, internships and leadership programs. The minor in Conservation Leadership facilitates the development of the next generation of professionals who can address conservation issues and challenges posed by a changing climate and sea level rise.

Students who could benefit from adding the Minor to their portfolio include but are not limited to Biology (Wetland Biology and Biotech), Chemistry, Oceanography (Biological, Chemical, Geological, Physical), Civil and Environmental Engineering, Earth Science Education, Economics, Environmental Health, Geography, Interdisciplinary Studies (Professional Writing, Work & Professional Studies), International Studies, Leadership, Management, Marine Biology, Park, Recreation and Tourism Studies, Political and Legal Studies, Political Science, Print and Photo Media, Public Health.