CONS 697: Adaptive Management

Adaptive management is a powerful tool conservation researchers, practitioners, and managers use to organize the development and implementation of projects and programs. Yet while many conservation organizations seek adaptive management skills in prospective employees, few conservation graduate programs offer adaptive management training. This course is given in partnership with Foundations of Success (FOS) a nonprofit organization whose conservation training activities focus on expanding the use of adaptive management principles in conservation.

Photo by Rebecca Spindler

FOS is a founding member of the Conservation Measures Partnership (CMP), whose member organizations are committed to devising better ways to design, manage, and measure the impacts of their conservation actions. During this course, participants use the CMP’s Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation and Miradi adaptive management software to explore how conservation projects can be planned and designed to advance towards their goals in an organized and efficient manner. The techniques taught in this course are applicable to a range of conservation issues and are readily adapted to course participants’ own work.

Working in teams, course participants apply the adaptive management skills they are learning to real-world conservation projects—projects recruited from participants, course coaches and conservation organizations. Structuring the training course (including the daily lecture/discussion sessions) around these team projects provides a realistic view of the intricacies of conservation endeavors. Course applicants are encouraged to propose conservation-related projects they are working on as possible course teamwork projects.

During each day’s sessions, course instructors introduce the appropriate tools and guide project teams in applying these to their assigned conservation-related projects. Experienced course coaches facilitate the teamwork. Participants use Miradi software to document and revise the products from each course module, and each project team prepares and presents for group discussion a brief summary of the products developed during that module. At the end of the course, each team prepares in writing and presents as a group their project’s complete draft adaptive management plan.



June 16-20, 2014


Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, USA

Application Procedure

Adaptive Management is offered through the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation as a graduate course for 2 graduate credits. Applications may be submitted using our Online Application Page. Before beginning our online application, please have .pdf or .doc versions of your updated CV, a Personal Statement of Interest and Qualifications (maximum 350 words), and a letter of recommendation from someone familiar with your academic or professional work. You’ll be asked to attach these with your application.

For first consideration, apply before April 7, 2014

Course Costs

Payment deadline: April 21, 2014

The total cost for this course is $2,233.00 for Virginia residents and $2,836.50 for out-of-state students. This cost includes our housing and dining package ($636) and covers:

  • Tuition for 2 credits through George Mason University
  • Registration fees
  • Instruction and course materials.
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off. Participants should plan to arrive to Dulles International Airport (IAD) by the evening of Sunday,June 16, 2014. Course instruction begins at 9am on Monday, June 17 and ends at 5pm on Friday, June 20.
  • Transportation for course activities.
  • Daily full-service buffet at the SMSC Dining Commons. Course meals start with dinner on Sunday June 15,and end with brunch on Saturday, June 21.
  • Housing at the SMSC Residential Facility, including a shared room with bathroom (single rooms available at extra cost). Lodging provided includes the nights of Sunday June 15, through Friday June 20, 2014.


With course coordinator’s written approval in advance, local participants may elect to stay off campus, waive the housing and dining package, and commute to this course. Meals in the Dining Commons can be purchased individually as needed.

For more information