Envisioning the Future of Ecology

Ecology students today will be the leaders of tomorrow. We are the ones who will steward ecology as a career into the 21st century. We will be the ones who ensure ecology is relevant to broader society. Let's begin anticipating that future.


Challenges and Opportunities Submission                              Core Working Group Information


What are the goals?

Entering ESA’s 101st year calls for reflection. Ecological research has a rich history of resolving complex questions about our natural world. Yet, as Earth enters the Anthropocene, 21st-century ecologists will likely contend with novel ecological realities, emerging career challenges, and an uncertain funding environment. The goal of EcoFutures is to stimulate long-term thought about how to 1) ensure ecology remains a successful and fulfilling career path and 2) increase the relevance of ecology to broader society by encouraging and supporting responsible environmental-decision making. We will identify the top 50 challenges that we as 21st-century ecologists may contend with and anticipate 50 emerging opportunities we may capitalize on in our careers and outreach to society.

How will we accomplish this?

At the center of the EcoFutures initiative is a horizon-scanning exercise. We are asking you to submit short descriptions of the most important challenges you expect to face and new opportunities you expect to emerge in your career path and outreach to society. A core working group of 25 students will then converge in a series of online and in-person workshops to prioritize and synthesize across the submissions. These students will be chosen by invitation and open application. We will endeavor to select a representative and diverse group of people.

What outcomes can we expect?

We expect several products to develop from the initiative. First, the results of the horizon scanning exercise will be reported in a peer-reviewed paper and at a special session at ESA 2017. We also expect and will encourage additional organically developed products that may come from working group meetings. These could include Youtube videos, blogs, etc. Finally, this horizon scanning exercise will help shape the agenda and future activities of the Student Section. The Student Section is here to support you as students. This exercise will provide insights into how we can best fulfill those duties.  In the short term, this will include a new career-development website targeted specifically at helping students in ecology prepare to find the jobs they want and deserve.