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Short Project Description

Based on a Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) and MARI at ODU, the project will develop curricula for an undergraduate minor, graduate certificates and a leadership course under the broad topic of conservation leadership. A research agenda in conservation under climate change and sea level rise will be co-design by FWS staff and MARI. In carrying out the project, MARI draws on expertise in a number of colleges and departments at ODU.


Our collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service aims to facilitate the development of the next generation of conservation professionals enabled to address conservation under changing climate and rising sea levels. A new minor in “Conservation Leadership” has been established and two certificates are under development; one being a graduate certificate in “Conservation Leadership” and the other one being a continuing education certificate in “Sustainability Leadership”.

To inform future curriculum development, a survey has being conducted to identify existing courses at ODU that are aligned with needs for new curricula preparing the next generation of leaders in the face of climate change and sea level rise. It also aimed to assess the availability of faculty for the development of new courses where needed. The results of the survey will be reported here in the near future.

One project objective is to co-design a research agenda to address the challenges climate change and sea level rise pose to conservation. To support this activity, faculty engaged in research related to climate change, sea level rise, and/or conservation has been asked to take a survey informing the development of a research agenda for conservation under climate change.

Both surveys are still open. If you are engaged in teaching or can contribute to the research agenda, please, take the surveys available here:

Interdisciplinary Minor in Conservation Leadership

In the frame of the project, an interdisciplinary minor in conservation leadership has been established and is available to undergraduate student since the Fall term of 2016. The Minor requires fifteen (15) credits, which are distributed over five 3-credits courses:

  • I. Core Courses
    • IDS466W Mitigation and Adaptation Studies
    • IDS467W Sustainability Leadership
  • II. Electives
    • Two elective Courses. See the list ...
  • III. Internship

The core courses IDS466W and IDS467W are cross-listed with BIOL and OEAS. The IDS467W is a service learning course requiring travel for fieldwork. The project provides financial support to students both for the service learning travel and the internship.

For more information on the minor, see the web page or contact the coordinator Dr. Tatyana Lobova at tlobova at

Research Agenda

As part of the project, we are compiling a research agenda to address knowledge gaps related to conservation under climate change and sea level rise. If you are an expert and would like to contribute to co-design this research agenda, please use the Write a Comment function to submit your input.

General comments on the project and the challenge of conservation under climate change and sea level rise can also be submitted using the comment function.

Project Summary

The Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute (MARI) at Old Dominion University (ODU) will carry out activities in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) that will lay the basis for a long-term sustainable program of service learning, internships, and leadership certificates. This program will facilitate the development of the next generation of conservation professionals with the goal to enable these professionals to address conservation under changing climate and rising sea levels. Emphasis will be on the development of a new leadership capable of addressing the challenges posed by 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. MARI and ODU are addressing this challenge through the development of novel curricula, new forms of service learning, and leadership certificates tailored to meet the needs of agencies engaged in conservation. In the project, conservation curricula for certificates at undergraduate, graduate and continuing education levels, including leadership certificates, will be developed in collaboration with the FWS and implemented and evaluated. In coordination with the FWS, a service learning program will be defined that includes service at FWS facilities as part of the course work. Supervised internships will be established for students to earn academic credits for practical work experience, both inside the service learning and certificate programs, and outside of these. The project will assist and coordinate with the FWS to recruit students for employment opportunities that provide practical work experience in conservation biology and knowledge of administrative support functions. The project will work with the FWS to co-design a research agenda that identifies research needs in conservation, relevant environmental issues, and biodiversity in general with particular focus on climate change and sea level rise impacts. This research agenda will contribute to the formation and development of curricula and service learning programs.