The College of William & Mary has announced a $19.3 million gift from an alumna and trustee who wishes to remain anonymous to establish an institute focused on the world's most pressing conservation and sustainability challenges.
To be launched in 2020, the Institute for Integrative Conservation will conduct cross-disciplinary research aimed at protecting ecosystems and safeguarding biodiversity while developing leaders who are equipped to drive policy, advance advocacy, and inspire action at the local, national, and international levels. "Integrative conservation" is a holistic, evidence-based approach to improving ecological, social, and economic outcomes that balances conservation strategies with economic sustainability and the well-being of native populations.
To that end, teams drawn from across William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Law School, Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Raymond A. Mason School of Business, and School of Education will collaborate on research and engage in international conversations with experts from academia, the federal government, and the nonprofit and private sectors on a range of topics, including sea-level rise and coastal stability, threats to biodiversity, human encroachment on critical wildlife habitat, and the development of more effective conservation technologies. The gift also will enable William & Mary — which has made a commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 — to create internships and international scholarships that help ensure a pipeline of underrepresented, international, and first-generation students and women in conservation fields and to establish a multidisciplinary integrative conservation educational model.
"The institute will enable collaboration with key external partners and create new synergies across the university. Only via such cross-disciplinary collaborations can we ensure the vitality of the most valuable asset on this planet — our environment," said William & Mary president Katherine A. Rowe. "In addition, because diversity accelerates problem-solving, we are committed to expanding the pipeline of underrepresented students, staff, and faculty entering conservation professions."