MEM Specialization in Ecosystem
Conservation and Management

Purpose and Scope

Ecosystems provide supporting, provisioning, regulating and cultural services, such as nutrient cycling, food and fresh water production, flood regulation and recreational space. The growing awareness of these provisioning ecosystem services has focused attention on how these services might change, and so influence human wellbeing, as the organisms within ecosystems respond to mounting environmental pressures. To predict the responses of organisms and the services they provide requires a detailed understanding of ecological science, where the focus is on understanding how biotic and abiotic interactions shape the structure and function of ecosystems.
 
The purpose of the Ecosystem Conservation & Management specialization is to give students the skills to understand, interpret and apply ecological science to inform adaptive management of species, communities and ecosystems in a changing world. Students should consider this specialization if post-graduation they envisage seeking employment, doctoral study and/or opportunities where they might influence and develop management of species, communities, ecosystems or habitats for uses including climate regulation, food production, ecotourism, hunting, carbon sequestration, species conservation and/or education. Students entering employment commonly engage with environmental non-profit organizations (e.g. Defenders of Wildlife), Federal agencies (e.g. Fish & Wildlife Service), and environmental consulting firms.

Curriculum

Foundations
Students of this specialization, like all MEM students, are strongly encouraged to complete the MEM Foundations courses [1].  These courses provide a common foundation of concepts, principles, and tools that all MEM students must learn, regardless of their specialization, to excel as professional environmental managers.  The Foundations courses are listed below, except F&ES 530a Ecosystems and Landscapes, which is required for this certification (see the ‘bins’ in the Specialization Core).
 
or or  
Specialization Core
Students must complete two offerings in each sub-bin of the Specialization Core (12 credits total). Collectively, these courses provide fundamental coverage of ecological and societal phenomena that influence species and their environments, and in turn the quality, availability, and distribution of ecosystem services. The core classes both introduce and assess approaches for managing complex ecosystem issues.
 
Socio-economic and political  
Natural science  
Quantitative Analysis and Measurement
All students must take at least two courses in Quantitative Analysis and Measurement. Courses in this group (6 credits total) impart skills and knowledge needed by environmental managers to organize, interpret, and present observational data relevant to ecosystem management.
 
Spatial  
Statistical  
Applied math  
Specialization Electives

Students must select at least two elective courses. These include disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to a wide range of topics relevant to ecosystems and environmental management. Electives can be chosen to increase either the breadth or depth of understanding and should be selected to strengthen student preparation for the Capstone Project. Electives that pertain to students in the specialization include courses (not taken) listed under the Specialization Core and those listed below:

 
Ecology/ Conservation  
Law/ Policy/ Business  
Courses offered though other Yale schools and departments may be used to satisfy elective requirements subject to approval of the faculty of the specialization. 

Professional Skills
Effective conservation and environmental management requires more than academic mastery, and we require students to take at least three of the professional skills modules offered by FES.
 
Capstone Project
The Capstone requirement focuses on applied problem solving and relies on the application of knowledge, methodological approaches, and interpretive techniques gained from courses taken during the earlier stages of the MEM. The Capstone project originates with the student, with input and advice from the student’s advisor and other members of the specialization. As a Capstone Project develops, the student should identify a Capstone Committee, consisting of the student’s major faculty advisor and at least one additional faculty member with expertise relevant to the student’s research.
 
A Capstone Project may involve providing a service to a client (e.g., a government agency, company, not-for-profit, or individual) or a research project that culminates with a paper suitable for publication in a scientific or trade journal. In some cases, a Capstone Project may involve group work with five or fewer F&ES students or could be completed as the major requirement of a Capstone Course. 
All Capstone Projects have four basic deliverables that will be evaluated by the student’s Capstone Committee: (i) a brief project proposal submitted by the third week of the semester; (ii) a mid-semester progress report; (iii) a final written report; and (iv) an oral presentation of the final project. An extended abstract describing the project will be published on the School’s (new) Student Research Database, and the oral presentation will be open to all students and faculty of the F&ES community.
 
Capstone Courses  
Faculty Coordinator
Mark Bradford
 
Specialization Faculty
Mark Ashton, Graeme Berlyn, Ann Camp, Carol Carpenter, Susan Clark, Liza Comita, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Eli Fenichel, Brad Gentry, John Grim, Xuhui Lee, Chadwick Oliver, Simon Queenborough, Peter Raymond, Oswald Schmitz, David Skelly
 

[2] Can serve as a Capstone or a Specialization Elective, but not both. 
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