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Statement of Need

Global and climate change and their impacts including sea level rise are a challenge to conservation efforts. Recent national assessments of climate change and its current and future impacts emphasize the threats to natural resources and the need for adaptation. There is a growing need to educate a work force that can design and implement adaptive conservation programs that are resilient with respect to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise on natural resources. Leadership in conservation is particularly challenged by the need to review underlying paradigms and to initiate paradigm shifts where needed.

The Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute (MARI) at Old Dominion University (ODU) is carrying out research with particular focus on reducing the impacts of climate change and sea level rise on natural resources and the coupled socio-economic and environmental system. MARI is taking a comprehensive approach to the development of the new field of adaptation science, emphasizing the interdependencies in the coupled system and the changing needs for conservation of natural resources impacted by climate change. The challenge of preparing a work force that can handle conservation under a changing climate is addressed through the development of novel curricula, new forms of service learning, and leadership certificates tailored to meet the needs of agencies engaged in conservation. MARI's research program informs the development and implementation of educations elements, and MARI maintains links to societal stakeholders through a wide range of outreach activities to ensure that both research and education meets the needs of these stakeholders.

Under the lead of an Assistant Director, Service Learning, ODU has created and continues to develop a strong service-learning program that supports faculty, students, and community organizations. The development of new Service-Learning Instructional Mini-Grant Awards in Spring 2015 provided funds for 11 service-learning courses across the disciplines, including 19 faculty and more than 2,000 students, which roughly is doubling the number of students taking a service-learning course at ODU. In May 2015, service-learning was the theme for ODU’s Center for Learning and Teaching Faculty Summer Institute, an annual two-day internal conference at which approximately 200 faculty and staff across the university presented, shared, and learned about diverse service-learning topics and key issues.