A FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND education course focused entirely on wildlife conservation and sustainability education is set to be launched in the UK.
The new course, designed and delivered by experts at Chester Zoo and the University of Chester, offers a first opportunity, anywhere in the world, for education professionals to gain a recognised qualification in the field of conservation and sustainability education.
Launching in 2023, the Conservation and Sustainability Education PGCert aims to provide educators with the highly sought-after knowledge and skills needed to help learners maximise the impact they can have in carving a better future for the planet.
It follows world leaders gathering in Egypt for the UN’s global COP27 where the importance of education in solving the planet’s climate and ecological emergencies was one of the key areas of discussion.
Liz Webb, Chester Zoo’s conservation academy training manager, said: “Education is vital to saving our planet – highlighted by the unveiling of a draft Department for Education Climate and Sustainability Strategy, launched by the Secretary of State for Education in April.
“It has a crucial role to play if we’re to resolve the urgent crises we’re currently facing in the form of climate change and global biodiversity loss. However, only can it truly do this if we have more and better trained educators who thoroughly understand the magnitude of the environmental challenges we face, and have the skills to engage their learners and organisations with the solutions needed to address them.
“That’s why this new course – the first of its kind ever to launch in the UK, and indeed the first education course to be developed by a zoo and a university globally – is so important, and so valuable. It’s, at long last, putting sustainability and conservation at the forefront of learning.
“Recently the zoo launched a new 10-year Conservation Masterplan. One of its key aims is to train more conservationists of the future and empower people to live more sustainably. This course, led by our world-leading conservation experts, is a big step forward to helping us achieve our ambitious goals.”
With Chester Zoo and the University of Chester joining forces, the course promises to combine conservation-focussed expertise with first-rate education sector knowledge.
Uná Meehan, the University of Chester’s deputy director of partnerships, said: “We need to stop looking to the past to solve the problems of the future and radically rethink how we’re educating everyone if we’re to combat the climate and conservation crises.
“This course will draw from on the expertise from both institutions with a track record for outstanding innovation within education.”
Educators say it will be rooted in real-world practice and based heavily on Chester Zoo’s wide-ranging expertise and decades of experience in the field of conservation, with education programmes delivered both in the zoo and in support of field partners across the globe.
Already, more than 450,000 people participate in the zoo’s learning programmes every year and the zoo supports more than 100 schools across the North West to implement a conservation-focussed curriculum, while the University of Chester boasts more than 14,200 students and offers 550 courses for undergraduate and postgraduate students.
Professor Helen O’Sullivan, provost and deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Chester, added: “This powerhouse partnership between the University of Chester, one of the few Ofsted Outstanding teacher training facilities in the country, and Chester Zoo, the UK’s leading conservation zoo, will be a game changer for how the vital topics of conservation and sustainability are ultimately taught in conservation organisations, schools, colleges and universities around the world.
“Our two organisations are sector-leading in their own right and, together, we have created something truly innovative and truly world class.
“This is a course that will equip educators with the skills and knowledge to engage their learners with conservation and sustainability issues and make a real difference and, enabling educators to play a significant role in helping find solutions to the climate and biodiversity emergencies our planet is faced with.”
Applications are now open for the course at https://www1.chester.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/conservation-and-sustainability-education