The Biodiversity & Development Institute exists to create opportunities to do fundamental and applied biodiversity & development research, incorporating both science & humanities perspectives
Research themes and questions
- Art & practice of science
Human dimensions of science
Research field methods
How and why do people vary in the ways in which they engage with science, particularly their understanding of the human and natural systems in which they live? How can we improve this engagement?
How and why do communities, populations, and individual organisms vary in space and time in their behaviour, distributions, demography, and physiology?
- Sustainable development
How do we develop robust societies in ways that are inclusive, socially responsible, environmentally sustainable, and financially viable?
How we operate
The Biodiversity and Development Institute (BDI) is a non-profit company designed to foster research and community action in the fields of biodiversity conservation and social development. The BDI is composed of three departments which operate under six independent models that have overlapping missions. The Citizen Science Department seeks to connect people with conservation- and development-related research projects and seeks to help orchestrate that research, disseminate the results, and support community action. The Research Consulting Department seeks to promote rigorous research in conservation and development by providing technical and logistical support to the existing academic community. The Research Training Department seeks to train and build the capacity of research professionals across several rungs of the research ladder, including under-graduate students, post-graduate students, field assistants, and early-career scientists.
The Citizen Science Department establishes field sites by drawing on a considerable network of landowners and communities who want research to be done in their areas. This department sources local and international post-graduate students to conduct research projects at those sites. A second approach that this department takes, is to link citizens who have an existing interest in biodiversity and development research with opportunities where they can volunteer on and contribute to long-term research projects. In the process of training and assisting students, providing immersive opportunities for informal researchers, and collaborating with local communities, the BDI’s mission is to transform all stakeholders into citizen scientists.
The Research Consulting Department assists the formal academic community by providing technical and logistical support. Some of these services include statistical and quantitative consulting, manuscript editing, student mentoring and supervision, and field extension services. This department also provides logistical support to local or international researchers seeking to conduct projects in South Africa. This service includes finding suitable field sites, negotiating research access, sourcing field assistants, providing accommodation, transportation, and field equipment, and providing research collaboration through our aforementioned technical support services.
The Research Training Department provides training and continuing education opportunities in the fields of quantitative analysis, citizen science, database management, academic writing and workflow, and ecological field research. This department creates these opportunities in the form of tutoring, workshops, traditional in-class courses, and distributed or online courses. This department also provides fundamental training in conducting field research, aimed specifically at new graduates with high school diplomas or Bachelors degrees looking to start their careers in entry-level field assistant positions.