Applications Open for Cambridge University Masters Programme in Conservation Leadership Supported by UNEP Mon, Nov 5, 2012

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Cambridge (UK) / Nairobi, 2nd November 2012 - Applications are open for a Masters in Conservation Leadership at the University of Cambridge, supported by the UN Environment Programme's World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC).

The course aims to attract students from developing countries and is part of UNEP's ongoing work to promote higher learning on environmental issues.

The environmental challenges facing the world today cannot be overcome with technical capacity alone. They also require innovative and effective leaders who have the capacity to identify solutions and ensure that they are implemented. The Masters in Conservation Leadership aims to develop these advanced leadership skills.

Launched in 2010, this is a full-time, one-year course, targeting graduates of leadership potential with at least three to five years of relevant experience.

The course has two unique features that distinguish it from traditional masters programmes in conservation science.

First, it is delivered by a collaborative partnership of six university departments and nine internationally focused NGOs and networks that together comprise the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. UNEP-WCMC is a key partner in this initiative, and plays a leading role in the delivery of the course.

Second, the course focuses on issues of management and leadership, including material taught by the Cambridge Judge Business School and the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership.

The students taking the Masters in Conservation Leadership are mature, diverse and highly experienced, creating rich opportunities for learning from each other as well as from those teaching the course.

There is a strong focus on students from developing countries, and a small class size that allows for the full involvement of all students in a wide range of activities. The current cohort includes seventeen students from seventeen different countries! As well as academics, those teaching the classes include a wide range of conservation practitioners who teach the skills they apply in their every-day work. In total, over sixty different lecturers contribute to the course.

For their assessed work, students complete a series of taught modules, followed by a four month placement. The modules include academic components spanning the natural and social sciences, including the economic, social and political issues that are crucial to understanding human interactions with the environment. The modules also include more practical, applied components, such as finance and accounting, strategic planning, advocacy, networking and negotiation. The assessed work for the taught component includes practical assignments and group consultancy work. For their placement, students work directly with a conservation organisation on a leadership-oriented project, and complete a 10,000 word report that gives students the chance to put their leadership skills into practice.

To further develop leadership skills, a series of non-assessed events run through the year, and these give students the chance to meet senior conservation leaders in person, to give presentations to a professional audience and to attend seminars with other conservation professionals. Beyond the Masters, strong emphasis is placed on alumni networking. Alumni are now in a range of senior positions within ministries, NGOs and consultancies.

The aims of the Masters in Conservation Leadership are directly in line with UNEP's ambition to strengthen the science policy interface, and responds to the call for capacity building defined by the Bali Action Plan. The course provides an ideal opportunity for UNEP employees who wish to spend a year enhancing their leadership skills, knowledge of cutting-edge conservation issues and first-hand experience of working with diverse conservation organisations. UNEP has a major role in the masters through the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, which provides a range of lectures and hosts 2-3 placement projects each year. Dr. Chris Sandbrook, the Lecturer in Conservation Leadership who helps to coordinate the masters, works at UNEP-WCMC.  

Applications for entry in October 2013 are now open. Scholarship opportunities are available from the University of Cambridge for those applying before December 1st 2012.  Further scholarships for students from highly biodiverse and less-developed countries are available for those applying before the overall deadline on 30th March 2013.

Further details of the course, scholarships and students can be found at the following pages:

Course overview:

Scholarship details:

Biographies of current and former students:

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