My name is J and my interests are…

Introductions in front of a group almost always leave me frustrated. It feels like I can never quite manage to express my background and my interests in the succinct, intelligible and impressive mini speeches that so many others seem to do. I’ve developed tricks that help, like jotting down a few notes and referring to them while I talk (not always easy). And still, every time my turn is over I remember what it was I had really meant to say. It makes me wonder if I don’t actually know what is important in my background and what it is that interests me.
So for my own sake, I’m going to re-introduce myself…to myself.

”Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about why you chose this course and what you’re interested in.”

Hello, my name is J and I’m here on this masters course because I thought it would offer insights into conservation that were grounded in pragmatism and supplemented by training in the practical tools needed to implement it. The explicit interdisciplinary focus also intrigued me because it is something I want to explore in terms of the trade-offs we make when trying to achieve both ecological and social goals.

I’m broadly interested in conservation and my background is in the assessment side of species conservation but I don’t have specific subject-area expertise. My aims for this year are to:

  • take time to reflect on my values and passions within conservation
  • think and discuss critically the merits of different conservation approaches so I can better understand what works
  • find inspiration and motivation for a new direction in my conservation career, possibly a subject-area focus, but more likely a focus on an approach that can be applied across different ecosystems
  • meet and learn from as many new people as possible
  • explore my own management and leadership values, styles and potential (!)
  • learn how peoples’ values affect their interest in wildlife and nature conservation
  • discuss what are the determining factors in sparking a commitment to conservation and how these can be fostered
  • build my own picture of what characterizes interventions that are sustainable over the long-term
  • examine the different schemes for determining priority areas and how the people and criteria involved in the priority-setting affect the success of conservation of those areas
  • improve my understanding of and ability to pitch/sell a conservation idea convincingly (not only to donors, but to stakeholders in a project)
  • consider the ways that environmental education can be effective
  • gather a wider perspective on the role of MEAs in the big toolbox for conservation and analyse it as a governance tool
  • etc?