The four-year degree course – the Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Taronga Wildlife Conservation) – gives students an unrivalled opportunity to study conservation science hands-on, while being taught by experts in the field.
Cameron Kerr AO, Chief Executive of Taronga Conservation Society Australia, said: “Over the past few years since this course was first launched, we have seen some devastating and real reminders of the state of our planet, the threats facing wildlife and the growing need for an army of conservationists to enable action.
“At Taronga, we understand that while our work in the field and in the lab is critically important, that alone it is not enough. To tackle climate change and extinctions head on, we need to take a 360-degree approach to wildlife conservation that focuses on educating a new generation of conservationists and embedding the skills of conservation science with a passion for wildlife.
“Education is not new to the fabric of Taronga, in fact we’ve been running education programs for more than 40 years, but to see the first of many skilled and insightful students graduate from this course gives me great hope for the future of our planet,” said Kerr.
Throughout the course, the students were immersed in the environment of working science and conservation management, spending time at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo and at the University of Sydney. The course also included time in the field at The Sanctuary – a 110-hectare conservation breeding engine room in Dubbo home to critically endangered Greater Bilbies - where they were able to witness conservation in action.
Dr Emma Thompson, University of Sydney Affiliate and University Program Manager & Lecturer at the Taronga Institute of Science and Learning said the course was a unique collaboration between two trusted organisations, with a real-world impact.
“Taronga and the University of Sydney are iconic Institutions and world-leaders in science and conservation, conducting incredible research and work not only here in Australia but around the World.
“This partnership – the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere – is the representative of the kind of collaborations we need to see to give our planet the best future we can. The course gives students the opportunity to be surrounded by the very best experts from the Taronga and the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Science and School of Life and Environmental Sciences,” said Dr Thompson.
Inaugural graduating student Jessica Lu said her time in the course provided her with crucial skills and experience to begin her career in conservation: “The effects of climate change and the impact of pollutants are very real, and we are feeling it as our weather patterns are drastically changing. Extreme weather events such as the recent devastating floods and the Black Summer bushfires are clear evidence that environmental conditions are becoming increasingly dangerous.
“Learning about topics such as Indigenous land management strategies, the Sustainable Development Goals and threatened species conservation has definitely opened my eyes to the challenges caused by human-induced climate change and how we can help to mitigate these effects for generations to come,” said Lu.
The Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Taronga Wildlife Conservation) is a joint education alliance between the University of Sydney and Taronga Conservation Society of Australia. There are currently 190 students enrolled in the course, with 174 from Australia and a further 16 from overseas.
Taronga provides educational opportunities from pre-school-aged children to PHD candidates, engaging and educating close to 100,000 students each year. Taronga's educational programs encompass school excursions, overnight experiences, day courses, Zoomobile incursions, curriculum-linked virtual lessons, and courses delivered by Taronga’s Registered Training Organisation, the Taronga Training Institute.