The major challenges facing society are large and complex – such as global climate change, pollution, the spread of emerging infectious diseases and invasive species. More than ever, scientists are forced to consider the context and impacts of their research through a broader social, cultural, and economic lens.
Educational institutions including Virginia Tech are adapting by developing urgently needed interdisciplinary training programs to cultivate the next generation of leaders to solve these complex problems.
For the Global Change Center (GCC), one of the core centers of the Fralin Institute for the Life Sciences, has become a member of ANGLES: A Network for Senior Leadership in Sustainability that provides tools and resources to help graduate students become more inclusive researchers.
With membership spanning 20 institutions across the United States and Canada, ANGLES is a network of higher education professionals dedicated to developing graduate student leadership centered around sustainability, environmental, and societal issues. The GCC is partnering with ANGLES members from Brown University, Cornell University, Duke University, and McGill University as well as initiatives such as the National Center for Social and Environmental Clustering.
“We jumped at the opportunity to join ANGLES when we were invited,” said William Hopkins, a professor in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment.
said Hopkins, who is also director of the GCC and Interfaces of Graduate Education’s interdisciplinary global change program.
Administratively located within Colorado State University’s College of Global Environmental Sustainability, ANGLES’ mission is to cultivate the capacity for collective leadership and influence on sustainability issues by accelerating leadership development and improvement in higher education. The network’s philosophy focuses on identifying what can be achieved when we align our efforts to advance upcoming leaders by harnessing synergies between institutions to narrow gaps in graduate leadership training.
“The ANGLES Network is dedicated to providing graduate students with the skills they need to accelerate progress on pressing global sustainability challenges,” said Alita Wheeler, Research and Associate Officer in Colorado State University’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability and co-founder. initiative members.
“ANGLES was created to develop competencies, share lessons learned, and help interested organizations initiate similar programs. We are pleased to welcome Virginia Tech’s Global Change Center to the network. The Global Change Center’s deep and comprehensive expertise develops students into agents of change,” Wheeler said.
As part of this network, both the Center for Global Change and the interdisciplinary graduate education program Interfaces of Global Change gain access to and contribute to a growing collection of resources geared towards emerging topics and tools in graduate leadership and curriculum development. Virginia Tech is represented at bimonthly ANGLES Network meetings as well as a searchable skills and abilities database detailing sustainability leadership training activities offered by Network members across North America.
Virginia Tech’s Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Interdisciplinary Global Change Interfaces Program, jointly administered by the Center for Global Change, the Fralin Institute for Life Sciences, and Virginia Tech Graduate School, was created in 2013 with ambitions to provide doctoral training opportunities. Students related to social and environmental issues that include formal training related to leadership, science communication, stakeholder engagement, and the art of effective collaboration.
With approximately 65 Ph.D. Fellows representing more than a dozen departmentsThe concept of shared learning is ingrained in the program’s core values and function.
The ANGLES Network complements the Transformative Graduate Education Initiative at Virginia Tech’s Graduate School which is designed to push the boundaries of traditional disciplinary academic education.
“We aim to fundamentally change how graduate students prepare to become the next generation of scientists, educators, scientists, engineers, artists and professional professionals in an ever-evolving global context,” said Aimee Surprenant, dean of the Graduate School. The professional development tools offered by this national network will greatly enhance the experiences of our students and we are pleased to invite the GCC and Virginia Tech to join. “
“Building relationships with other thriving first-rate programs across the country will have a variety of co-benefits,” Hopkins said. “For example, in the coming years, our involvement should increase the field of view of Virginia Tech’s vast graduate training opportunities and become a valuable asset to our faculty seeking to recruit talented graduate students from diverse backgrounds.”
Today, the Interfaces to Global Change program is proud of dozens of alumni working around the world to address these global challenges. From combating the spread of invasive pathogens decimating biodiversity in Central America to developing sustainable aquaculture practices in Ghana in the face of climate change – graduates of the program lead teams of frontline researchers and practitioners.
“As a land-giving university, our alumni are our greatest achievement,” said Hopkins.
By Jessica Zelsky