Over the past four years, the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute (JRS grant page), lead by Dr. Town Peterson and Co-Director Dr. Kate Ingenloff, has had the ambitious goal to build a comprehensive package of biodiversity informatics educational materials that would be accessible for…
Program 3: Biodiversity Informatics Capacity and Partnership Building
Sub-Saharan Africa lacks the human and technical capacity to meet its needs for biodiversity data and knowledge. Biodiversity Informatics is not widely used nor is it valued. We will invest in creating the skills, adding the knowledge and tools, and developing the relationships that will help our grantee partners succeed.
Overall, our grantmaking will focus on partnerships, training capacity, strengthening of networks, reaching into other sectors, sharing of materials, and improved evaluation. Our three Capacity Building initiatives are:
- Initiative 1: In-Project Training – Builds in-project capacity with formal courses and coordination of training across our grant portfolios. As grants are developed within the Programs, we will survey capacity-building needs to ensure that all projects are getting the types of training needed to strengthen their internal capacity. Grantees in both Programs will engage in professional networks, short technical courses, and will have a small grant fund available to them for training.
- Initiative 2: Biodiversity Informatics Training – Funds long-term professional training, African training capacity, and links training to a small grant fund and project opportunities. We see these training courses as a way to build partnerships with agencies who share our interest in Biodiversity Informatics.
- Initiative 3: Regional Capacity Support and Partnerships – Includes investments in conferences and partnerships that strengthen African regional systems for Biodiversity Informatics.
In 2015, JRS refined its goals and focus to aim explicitly at building capacity for biodiversity information systems in sub-Saharan Africa. To date, JRS training has focused on data suppliers and been highly distributed among geographies, ecosystems, and species. Yet, the community of scientists active in biodiversity data collection and use is greater than the community that identifies with biodiversity informatics. There is a sizable cohort of scientists engaged in conservation whose informatics skills can be improved, and whose data should be mobilized for greater benefit.
Some of the lessons that shape our approach for 2016-2020 are:
- Capacity building of individuals is the key catalyst of broader change, and is supported by employment, professional networks, training courses, experiential learning, technology, and policy;
- Our training is not reaching audiences beyond those already working with biodiversity data;
- Experiential (on-the-job) training – often catalyzed through new hardware and software – is the major element of our past capacity building contribution;
- Formal training is critically important and in high demand. Formal training is most evidently valuable when connected to opportunities to apply training in professional settings;
- Training is most likely to create sustained capacity when targeted to working professionals and Master’s or Ph.D. levels;
- Transfer of know-how from outside Africa occurs when such transfers are explicit project goals and are also associated with transfer of authority and responsibility; and
- Training resources will only be put in the public domain when doing so is an element of project design or the motivation of the grant recipient.
Capacity News and Stories
We've all heard the one about the tree falling in the forest, but here's your biodiversity koan for the day: If a biodiversity datum is produced, and no one can find it, does it create change? JRS Biodiversity Foundation contracted an independent study…
South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) is hosting a conference at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town, South Africa from May 19-22, 2015. The conference, entitled Africa Rising: Mobilizing Biodiversity Data for Sustainable Development, is being organized in partnership with the…
CyberTracker founder, Louis Liebenberg writes in today's Guardian in Citizen science: creating an inclusive, global network for conservation: "Imagine communities throughout the world gathering data, from remote villages in the Kalahari, the Congo, Australia and Mongolia, to school children in…
JRS' grantee, the Kansas University Biodiversity Institute announces the fourth course in its Biodiversity Informatics Training Curriculum series, "Biodiversity Diagnoses" to be held 1-9 September 2014, in Cotonou, Benin. The concept behind this course is to take some next steps in combining…