Louise Bradshaw, director of education at the St. Louis Zoo, came to the Conservation Psychology Institute at Antioch University New England (AUNE) to learn about research in conservation psychology. “I’ve followed Carol Saunders’ work for many years, and I’m interested in getting a good grounding in the research,” she said. Bradshaw also wants to bring information on promoting advocacy on climate change back to the national Association of Zoos and Aquariums, where she advises the conservation education committee.
Kristi Kenney of Berkeley, California, works with the Oakland Museum, in Oakland, California. She came to the institute to deepen her knowledge in her field of ecopsychology and ecotherapy. “I’m struggling with the question: How do we apply these ideas in the real world?” she said. “How do we do activism differently?”
Mandy Ruest of Canaan, New Hampshire, has a master’s degree in counseling and an MBA in sustainability from AUNE. She’s a therapist going into the conservation field. “The institute is a nice marriage of the two,” she said.
And Amy Cabaniss, AUNE Environmental Studies doctoral student and campus environmental coordinator at Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut, came to expand her knowledge about conservation psychology and its applications.
These and eleven other students spent the week of July 25-29 at the institute, taught by a group of faculty who are leaders in the field. Just as important was interaction with other students. Part of the institute’s curriculum was working in small groups to come up with solutions and options for solving real-world problems. “These applied projects will take the concept of conservation psychology and apply it to real-world conservation and sustainability challenges,” said Abigail Abrash Walton, one of the faculty members for the institute.
The faculty include:
- Carol Saunders, one of the founders of conservation psychology and a member of the research faculty in AUNE’s Department of Environmental Studies.
- P. Wesley Schultz, professor of psychology at California State University, San Marcos, where he teaches conservation psychology, social psychology and statistics.
- Thomas Joseph Doherty, whom the New York Times called “the most prominent American advocate of a growing discipline known as ‘ecopsychology.'” An AUNE alumnus, he manages Sustainable Self, a therapy practice in Portland, Oregon.
- Abigail Abrash Walton, a core faculty member in AUNE’s Department of Environmental Studies, and assistant to the president for sustainability and social justice at AUNE.
This was the first Conservation Psychology Institute, which AUNE plans to offer annually, said AUNE President David Caruso, in welcoming the students. Conservation psychology is a crucial field of endeavor today, he said. “The challenge we’re facing is changing how people think.”
Find more information on the Conservation Psychology Institute here.