MARI Activity Reports


Leaders for a sustainable future
Engaging Students in Tackling Wicked Real-World Problems

September 18, 2019, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm Elation Brewing, 5104 Colley Avenue, Norfolk, VA.

Hans-Peter Plag, Eddie Hill, and Tatyana Lobova gave an overview of ODU's collaboration with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which has resulted in an undergraduate and graduate program in "Conservation Leadership." Among others, the service learning projects that include case studies of ecosystems under climate change and human pressure in Florida and Puerto Rico were discussed. Students also joined the faculty on stage and commented on the understanding they gained in the program of the grant challenges humanity is facing, the value the program has for their professional career, and the impacts the program had on their world view and plans for their own lives.

Most sustainability and conservation-related issues present wicked problems to society, with each problem being unique, involving many stakeholders with different perceptions of the problem, and with no set of solutions. Often time is running out, those who want to solve the problem are part of it, and the future is discounted. Utilizing a transdisciplinary approach to case studies of wicked real-world problems, the Conservation Leadership program provides a "learning by experience" for the students with major impacts on their world views and life plans.

Right: Anthony DeSocio, a student in the 2019 cohort, talked with Hans-Peter Plag about the importance of meeting stakeholders in the real world. Eddie Hill and Tatyana Lobova are also on the stage.

The audience engaged in a dialog with the presenters about how this program can be broadened, and the presenters pointed out that they are inclusive and invite faculty from all disciplines to engaged in this transdisciplinary program that is complementary to the many important disciplinary programs at ODU.

See the Inside ODU article ...