MCCS 0518: 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.



There are no dates currently confirmed for an offering of this course.


Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia

Application Procedure

Adaptive Management is offered through the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation as a professional training course for 3 Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Applications should 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.

Course Costs

The total cost for this course is $2,136 (Course fee of $1500 + Housing and Dining Package of $636). Those applying as citizens of “less-developed” nations qualify for a reduced course fee of $850, making the total cost including housing (shared double room) and dining package $1,486. Click HERE to check if your country of citizenship qualifies you for the reduced course fee. Your total course payment includes:

  • Registration fees
  • Instruction and course materials
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off. Participants should plan to arrive to Dulles International Airport (IAD)
  • Transportation for course activities.
  • Daily full-service buffet at the SMSC Dining Commons.
  • Housing at the SMSC Residential Facility, including a shared room with bathroom (single rooms available at extra cost).


A very limited number of scholarships are available on a competitive basis for eligible international applicants. Click HERE for more information on scholarships.


With course coordinator’s written approval in advance of registration/payment, 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 then be purchased individually as needed.

For more information: