A new initiative, the Conservation Catalyst Network (CCN) (formerly Program on Academic and Research Institutions as Conservation Catalysts (PARCC)), explores the unique role of colleges, universities, and research institutions as catalyst for biodiversity conservation across large and complex landscapes. PARCC was launched in 2011 by researchers at Harvard Forest, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and the Center for Natural Resource and Environmental Policy at the University of Montana.
This initiative grew out of the awareness that many universities are engaged in distinctive “on-the-ground,” projects that have helped to catalyze major land conservation efforts of regional and national significance. There is growing interest nationally in understanding how collaborations, student/faculty exchanges, and other initiatives that go beyond the basic teaching and research functions of higher education institutions can spark land and biodiversity conservation efforts. The specific role of students as catalysts for large-landscape conservation action at colleges, universities, and research institutes has not yet been widely addressed in the conservation literature, yet students often are involved in a wide range of activities fundamental to the success of these programs, including basic research, civic engagement, outreach, scholarship, and direct and indirect influences on conservation management and policy.
The inaugural meeting of CCN was held in September 2011 at Harvard Forest, Harvard University, with the goal of building collaborative links between like-minded faculty and staff at colleges involved with large landscape conservation. Another meeting occurred at Colorado Chautauqua Association, Boulder, Colorado in April 2012. For additional information about the network see the Conservation Catalyst Network web page.