Catalyzing sustainability: Cornell University's field practicum in conservation and sustainable development
Human society is increasingly facing a variety of complex, intertwined environmental conservation and rural development issues. For example, national park objectives have expanded from the conservation of biological diversity to also include contributing to the livelihood and development needs of local people. Human settlements in fragile uplands create conflicts between upstream agricultural livelihoods and the downstream effects of watershed degradation. Distant and remote populations are brought into both collaborative and conflictual relationships over their interests in shared natural resources, requiring new scales of analysis and integration of the biophysical and social sciences. These conservation and sustainable development (CSD) issues cut across many of the traditional boundaries in natural resource management. As a result, the boundaries of the traditional disciplines of ecology, agricultural sciences, and the social sciences must be spanned, and science must increasingly be integrated with political and local collaborative processes of governance and decision making. These matters and other related issues are considered in this chapter.