This masters degree program offers students an opportunity to combine interdisciplinary course work in conservation ecology and sustainable development with field experience and thesis research. The program is intended to provide the training necessary to handle the unique, multidisciplinary problems in the area of conservation and sustainable development and to function independently as a researcher and decision-maker to address problems of conservation and sustainable development.

It is clear that among the major global problems we face today are the rapid depletion of our natural resources and the loss of biodiversity and remnant ‘natural’ areas in the landscape. The maintenance of our quality of life, or even the maintenance of a decent standard of living, depends on our ability to make the correct decisions on the long- term sustainability of resource use. These decisions must be made within a holistic framework, where considerations of the physical and biological properties of ecosystems are evaluated within the social and economic context of a community. This holistic framework for decision-making is a strength of UGA’s Odum School of Ecology. The objectives of this program are: 1) to develop a flexible training program at the M.S. level which provides interdisciplinary skills in decision-making in the areas of conservation ecology and sustainable development; and 2) to perform research which provides hands-on applied field experience for students.

The Odum School of Ecology provides one of the best places in the country to offer this program. The existing structure of the Ecology program with its ongoing interdisciplinary activities offers the physical and intellectual environment necessary to create a strong program. The Odum School of Ecology has members from 17 campus schools and departments, Cooperative Extensions,Savannah River Ecology Lab, USDA, the Environmental Protection Agency, The Joseph Jones Center and the Wormsloe Center for Research and Education.The program consists of a minimum of 30 hours: 10 hours of interdisciplinary core courses on principles of conservation and sustainable development: (1) ECOL 6080, Principles of Conservation and Sustainable Development I, 4 credits, fall only; (2) ECOL 8710, Environmental Practicum, 4 credits, fall or spring; and (3) ECOL 8400, Perspectives on Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development, 2 credits, fall only). Students are also required to take  electives along with thesis research and writing. A thesis or similar written report from an approved project is required. Beyond these requirements, students are expected to meet language and computer skills requirements as determined by their committee.

Students in the CESD program can choose from three thematic tracks: (1) Conservation Ecology, (2) Sustainable Development, or (3) Environmental Policy. All tracks require the same core courses, but have different recommended electives to provide focused preparation for different conservation careers. Selection of a track program and appropriate electives should be made in consultation with the advisor and must be approved by the student’s advisory committee as part of the Program of Study. More information on the thematic tracks and recommended courses is here.

Degree Awarded: MS

Degree Code: MS_CESD

School/College: Eugene P. Odum School of Ecology

Ecology Building
Athens, GA 30602-2202



Academic Department: Eugene P. Odum School of Ecology

Ecology Building
Athens, GA 30602-2202

Graduate Coordinator: Craig W. Osenberg


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