The Tropical Conservation and Development (TCD) Program is one of the Center for Latin American Studies research and training programs. TCD is also linked to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the College of Health and Human Performance, and the College of Design Construction and Planning through its affiliate departments and centers. TCD draws on the participation of core faculty and approximately 100 faculty affiliates housed in over 25 academic units across campus.
TCD is not a degree granting program, but rather offers an interdisciplinary certificate to students enrolled in Master’s or Ph.D. programs, spanning 25 academic units at UF. TCD complements the knowledge and skill sets that students develop in their home units, emphasizing student learning outside their immediate discipline and the ability to think in terms of linked social-ecological systems, work in teams, communicate in nonacademic formats, and reflect critically on their own perspectives and actions.
The Program garners significant extramural funding to support its initiatives. In 2000, TCD secured an endowment from the Ford Foundation and the state of Florida. Currently, TCD also receives major funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
TCD funds support regular competitions for graduate assistantships, research grants, and student practitioner experiences, as well as orientations and retreats, a weekly student-led seminar series and other on- and off-campus activities that support collective learning about the cutting-edge thinking and practical issues of conservation and development. An interdisciplinary student organization and an alumni network provide valuable opportunities for critical discussion, collaboration, and sharing of practical experience.
TCD’s main goals are:
-To train graduate-level professionals, particularly those from developing countries, to bridge theory and practice and learn across disciplines;
-To promote cross-national, integrative, comparative problem-centered research;
-To strengthen and expand learning and action networks.
At the heart of TCD is an innovative learning and action platform (see diagram below), where students, faculty and collaborators interact to address multi-scalar and multi-disciplinary challenges. TCD’s approach builds on traditional disciplinary foundations, integrates past and present student experiences, and embraces collaborative learning and action with partners involved in the day-to-day realities of conservation and development. TCD encourages research and training activities developed in close collaboration with host-country partners.