Despite producing an enormous amount of new information, ecologists are often unable to convey knowledge effectively to the public and to policy-makers. Unless the discoveries of ecological science are rapidly translated into meaningful actions, they will remain quietly archived while the biosphere degrades.

- William H. Schlesinger, Science,
August 2010

Graduate Certificate Program in Connecting Environmental Science and Decision Making (CESD)

Are you interesting in understanding how science is integrated into resource management and policy issues? Would you like to gain skills needed to work at the intersection between science and decision making?  Does the idea of finding ways that your science could be used by stakeholders appeal to you?

If so, the Graduate Certificate in Connecting Environmental Science and Decision Making (CESD) could be for you.

The CESD Certificate Program is designed to train students to effectively work at the interface between environmental science and decision making.  The overall goal of the program is to help students develop into professionals who are comfortable working with both scientific and decision-making communities in a variety of capacities.

Through an approach that includes course work and an internship, CESD students:

  • Develop a foundation in the theoretical basis of the interface between science and decision making.
  • Critically examine, evaluate, and practice methods of engagement between scientists and decision makers, including the evaluation of decision-making contexts, the role of science in informing policy, and effective approaches for communicating science to a broad range of audiences.
  • Acquire expertise in methods and skills needed for research that incorporates science-decision making interactions, solicits and incorporates stakeholders' feedback, and evaluates the effectiveness of interactions, collaborations, and decision-making impacts.

Because the problems and challenges that lie at the interface between science and decision making cross disciplinary boundaries, the program is designed for both physical and social science students.  CESD targets students interested in serving as trusted bridges between environmental research and resource management, who have backgrounds and interests that range from geography, ecology, and geosciences to political science and planning, and more.  A wide range of academic departments and programs are represented in the CESD program, including Agricultural Education, Anthropology, Communications, Geography and Development, Journalism, Management and Organizations, Public Health, Soil Water and Environmental Science, and Wildlife and Fisheries Science.

The CESD program is for graduate students and professionals who have earned a bachelor's degree. For additional application information, see Applying to the Program. For more information on the curriculum, internship, advising, and program FAQs, please use the links at the top of this page, or contact the program's Faculty Coordinator, Connie Woodhouse.

As society is confronted with the converging issues of increasing populations, limited resources, and the impacts of climate variability and change, professionals who are comfortable working with both scientific and decision-making communities in a variety of capacities are becoming essential.  Environmental scientists in academic institutions traditionally have worked in isolation from decision makers who may benefit from scientific information.  There is an absence of mechanisms to link the two, and it is increasingly being recognized that people who understand the dynamics and linkages between the two cultures are crucial if science is to move from the “ivory tower” to a role that includes informing decision making.