Wilson College Partners with Smithsonian Institute

Wilson College and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) have launched a five-year partnership that will offer both faculty and students tremendous resources and opportunities associated with the field of Conservation Biology.

Alumna Susan Breakefield Fulton proposed that the college and SCBI, both of which she is passionate about, partner to broaden the college’s education, providing a rich experience for those interested in Conservation Biology.

SCBI plays a leading role in the Smithsonian’s global efforts to save wildlife species from extinction and train future generations of conservationists. SCBI spearheads research programs at its headquarters in Front Royal, Virginia, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and at field research stations and training sites worldwide. SCBI scientists tackle some of today’s most complex conservation challenges by applying and sharing what they learn about “animal behavior and reproduction, ecology, genetics, migration and conservation sustainability,” according to institute officials.

The goal of this partnership involves a progressive four-year plan in which students interested in Conservation Biology will be introduced to SCBI and its officials through their first-year seminar, and visit the Front Royal campus.

Stressing that details have not yet been finalized, Wilson Professor of Biology Dana Harriger says, “The idea in mind is that students would spend a week in residence at SCBI after their freshmen year, receiving a more intensive introduction to the Smithsonian and visiting different sites.” Students in the program would then enroll in specific collaborative courses in their following years to expand their knowledge of conservation biology.

Harriger says, “The goal for students in their junior year is to spend an entire semester at SCBI, taking classes that would fit within their academic plan at Wilson.”

In addition, Smithsonian scientists, in collaboration with Wilson professors, would mentor students throughout their required three-semester research project.

“This process of being engaged and directly exposed lines up with our vision of graduating critical thinkers who are adaptable, flexible, and capable of problem solving,” Harriger added.

The partnership also focuses on faculty development, and therefore enables Wilson faculty to engage with SCBI faculty and exchange teaching courses.

Harriger says, “The hope for this program is to grow and include more aspects. The partnership, starting next fall, is a strong foundation and affiliation that trains a competent generation of conservationists.”

For more information, please contact Dana Harriger  at dharriger@wilson.edu.

Leave a Reply