Roberts, Jane and Bakuneeta, Chris
Investigating undergraduate active learning: a pilot study of common pool resource management in Uganda's Queen Elizabeth National Park.
In: 12th Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC), 7-11 Jul 2008, Cheltenham, UK.
A joint field course to Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda, in March-April 2008 was undertaken by undergraduate students of Gloucestershire University (UK) and Makerere University (Uganda). The aim of the pilot was to evaluate the potential of active learning to develop new and inter-disciplinary understandings of the complexity of community conservation within the Park, including the effectiveness of active learning in rapid assessment of common pool resource management. Students collected data through field visits, observations, key informant and group interviews, supported by lectures and tutorials. Student learning was assessed through presentations given in the field and evaluated using video diaries. Academic staff from both institutions also undertook participant observation. The findings show that active learning has high potential to advise park management on the best practices if the learning environment is receptive and proactive. The field class was successful in promoting learning and reflection on a range of issues relevant to CPR management of the QENP but also of other commons, including the global commons. These included: the relationship between economic wealth and agency; the role of culture in facilitating and obstructing communication between groups; the relative responsibilities of individuals, communities and governments; and the balance between intellectual and emotional imperatives for conservation. Some lessons were drawn about how to facilitate more effectively such learning on future field classes and recommendations are made. The implications of active learning to wildlife management are to promote inter-cultural and interdisciplinary sharing of knowledge, views, attitudes and perceptions and link these to theory and practice in resource management. Through challenging and being challenged, active learning is expected to produce a new and better breed of conservationists that should withstand the new challenges of linking conservation with development.
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