College of the Atlantic and Acadia National Park enjoy an innovative, multidisciplinary partnership to train and inspire the next generation of protected-area leaders while meeting current management needs of the national park.

David Rockefeller Family Chair in Ecosystem Management and Protection Kenneth S. Cline presented an outline of the partnership at the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Parks Congress 2014 in Sydney, Australia, this week.

The Congress — a landmark global forum on protected areas — is billed as a “place to share knowledge and innovation and to set the agenda for protected areas conservation for the decade to come,” building on the theme “parks, people, planet: inspiring solutions.” In a presentation at the World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia last week, David Rockefeller Family Chair in Ecosystem Management and Protection Ken Cline and alumna Zinta Rutins ’14 offered a strong vision of COA's stewardship partnership with Acadia National Park.In a presentation at the World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia last week, David Rockefeller Family Chair in Ecosystem Management and Protection Ken Cline and alumna Zinta Rutins ’14 offered a strong vision of COA's stewardship partnership with Acadia National Park.

Acadia National Park is gearing up for its 100-year anniversary in 2016 while College of the Atlantic sets its sights on its own 50-year mark.

Cline was joined by Zinta Rutins ’14 to present the outline, which approximately 80 people attended. 

Here are excerpts of the presentation:

“Parks Across the Curriculum: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Protected Area Education”

Protected areas in the 21st century will require managers and staff with a wider range of skills and knowledge than has been customary in the past. Traditional resource management academic programs provide only some of those skills and are not preparing a workforce to address the parks’ evolving needs. It is particularly crucial that this next generation of protected are leaders be able to move between disciplines and integrate knowledge from multiple sources.   

Instead of confining park-related courses to a resource management, recreation studies, or a wildlife biology program, College of the Atlantic’s non-departmentalized structure has allowed faculty and students from multiple disciplines to integrate protected area studies and research across our curriculum.  

In addition to more traditional collaborations in the sciences, this partnership is facilitating joint efforts in writing, education, anthropology, exhibit design, history, law, social sciences, and humanities.  

By partnering with park professionals through a variety of classes and projects, more students are exposed to the value and career opportunities in protected area management while at the same time providing valuable services and talent to underfunded and understaffed parks. Through this multi-pronged partnership approach, traditional barriers between disciplines and management areas can be reduced resulting in a more integrated education and a more effective park management effort.


College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning—human ecology—that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more, visit http://www.coa.edu.


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