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Five-day short course | 05 – 09 June 2023

Why this course?

Have you ever wondered why current conservation paradigms do not seem to be able to halt the global biodiversity extinction crisis? Or why do many conservation approaches find it so hard to do justice to people and integrate new ideas of ‘living with’ biodiversity rather than separating people and nature? Or why does conservation always gets so caught up in politics? Then this is the short course for you! 

Despite the concern over certain species groups e.g. amphibians, the main problem with conservation in the South(ern) African context is the continuing (racial, gender, and other) inequities that remain highly persistent, and are at times getting worse. Social and environmental justice issues still receive too little systemic attention and need urgent action. This short course provides a holistic overview of global conservation paradigms, their strengths and weaknesses, and why new, more transformative paradigms such as ‘convivial conservation’ are currently gaining ground. It does so with specific reference to how the biodiversity crisis takes on connotations in the Southern African context where conservation has been quite successful, yet major issues still remain. 

What is being offered? 

The Institute of Poverty Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) is hosting a 5-day course with Wageningen University, aimed at transforming conservation ideas and practices in Southern Africa in biodiverse rural, urban, land, and ocean spaces. This is part of the Oak Foundation Funded Living Landscapes in Action project. The course will be convened by: 

Prof Moenieba Isaacs: Professor and Academic Coordinator at PLAAS 
Prof Bram Büscher: Professor and Chair of the Sociology of Development and Change Group at Wageningen University 

What is the course content?

The key themes and concepts covered in the course will be as follows: 

  1. Histories and paradigms of conservation, in South(ern) Africa and globally and the current biodiversity crisis and how this is unequal across space and time;
  2. Political ecology in relation to conservation: how to understand conservation in a broader context focused on tackling both the extinction crisis and urgent issues of social justice?
  3. Convivial alternatives to mainstream conservation and possibility for sustainable transformation;
  4. Themes in conservation: rights, violence, law, gender, livelihoods, biodiversity.
  5. Fieldwork trip to contextualise the conservation challenges in key living landscapes field sites.

What funding is available? 

The short course is fully funded by the Oak Foundation and will be held in Cape Town, South Africa. Funding is available for a small number of participants to attend the short course training in person in Cape Town. Selected participants must ensure they have access to good internet infrastructure to attend the course if they will make use of the hybrid option.

How will participants be assessed? 

Participants will be assessed by means of a pre-contact assignment, a field report, and a final submission of a learning portfolio. If participants complete all the assessments, they will receive a Certificate of Completion.

Who should apply? 

  • Participants working in biodiversity conservation, natural resource management, and governance (land, water, and ocean), including government agencies, conservation organizations, private organizations and, community-based organizations working on conservation issues, conservation NGOs, and related agencies in Southern Africa. 
  • A Bachelor’s degree or equivalent and a minimum of 3-4 years of work experience in natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, or environmental governance in Southern Africa. 
  • Applicants interested in new and innovative ways to tackle the biodiversity crisis in Africa and beyond and doing so in a way that puts social justice front and centre. 
  • Applicants interested in building lessons from the history of conservation and applying new ways of thinking going forward.

How to apply? 

Interested parties should complete: 

Who can I contact?

For enquiries linked to the short course, please contact:

Ms. Carla Henry

Applications close: Tuesday, 11 April 2023

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