Helena Slater

Helena’s research aims to investigate the role of formal education in shaping the views and skills of future conservation leaders.

Photo credit: Helena Slater

PhD project

Education and the future of conservation


For my undergraduate degree, I studied Geography at the University of St Andrews and my final year dissertation investigated the relationship between urban woodland biodiversity and psychological well-being. I continued studying human-environment interactions during my MSc in Environmental Protection and Management (EPM) at the University of Edinburgh. The EPM course sparked my interest in using mixed-method designs to investigate different perspectives on the environment and how landscapes should be managed.


This research will explore what is being taught in formal conservation courses and how course content influences students’ conservation perspectives. A range of disciplines teach conservation and there is little documentation on what topics and skills are covered in conservation courses. Drawing on existing tools in the Future of Conservation project, this study will continue to open up the new-conservation debate by investigating students’ views on key conservation topics. A mixed-method approach will be used to measure students’ conservation perspectives over the course of their studies and document the skills being developed in formal conservation education. Those studying conservation now may go on to be leaders in the field. This research hopes to provide new insights into formal conservation education and the role it plays in shaping future conservation leaders.