PhD Programme in Conservation Science and Sustainability Studies

Ashoka Trust for Ecology and the Environment
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The ATREE doctoral programme in Conservation Science and Sustainability Studies is designed to impart training to research scholars, to develop and use integrated approaches in sustainable development and biodiversity conservation. The programme promotes interdisciplinary research and frameworks to integrate tools and approaches from the disciplines of ecology, economics, sociology, and climate science.

ATREE's doctoral programme is affiliated to Manipal University, which is the institution that will award the degree. In accordance with the requirement of both ATREE and Manipal University, students seeking admission should have:

  • a background in natural or social sciences
  • exhibit academic excellence

Students admitted to the programme will work under the personal mentorship of an ATREE faculty member and will also be guided by a doctoral committee of 3-5 members. The committee will consist of ATREE faculty members and external scientists and will include representation of expertise from different disciplines.


Doctoral training will begin with rigorous coursework that will take a year to complete. This will include a set of mandatory courses and a choice of electives. Since students will have either a natural or social science background, we have designed foundation courses in the natural and social sciences, which will introduce students to main concepts in both disciplines. The foundation course in natural science will cover principles in basic ecology and evolution, behavioural ecology, population biology, community ecology, ecosystem ecology, landscape ecology, and soils and hydrology. The foundation course in social science will cover the basic principles of economics and sociology, focusing on classical and contemporary economic and sociological theory, and expanding into ecological economics and environmental sociology. Following these will be two advanced core courses, one in conservation science and one in research design and methods (for both natural and social sciences).

The core course in conservation science is built on three thematic issues that are central to the current debate on the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable economic development viz., the decline of biodiversity, land degradation, and climate change. Within each thematic issue, we will start with a multidisciplinary approach and then move on to discussing more integrated approaches, drawing upon theoretical ideas and comparative analyses of case studies from across the world.

The core course in research design and methods will train students in advanced statistical, computational, and analytical methods to equip them with the necessary tools to design and implement research, and analyse data and communicate their research findings to quality journals.

Students who have successfully undergone the mandatory core courses are expected to be proficient in the basic principles of ecology, economics, sociology, and conservation science, and also equipped with the tools and technical skills to conduct research and communicate their findings effectively. Building on this fundamental training, student researchers are expected to develop and focus on their special areas of interest. In order to prepare the student for advanced debate on their focus of research, we have devoted considerable attention to designing optional elective courses. These will be advanced courses that discuss the current state of research and understanding on important issues related to ecology, conservation science, and environmental and forest policy and governance.

Course details for the first semester (August-November 2019)

C1A: Ecology

Credits and contact hours: 3 credits, 48 hours

Class schedule: Monday (10-10:50), Wednesday (10-10:50) and Friday (10-10:50 and 11-11:50) (Two classes on some Fridays)

C1B: Fundamentals of Environmental Science

Course instructors: Priyanka Jamwal (Coordinator), Shrinivas Badiger (Co-coordinator), Nirmalya Chatterjee, Veena Srinivasan and Jagdish Krishnaswamy.

Credits: 3 credits

Prerequisites: None

Instructors: Bejoy K Thomas (coordinator), Durba Biswas

Credits and contact hours: 3 credits, 48 hours

Grading: 3 Quizzes 30%/1 Assignment 20% Final exam 50% (a minimum of 85% attendance is needed to appear for the final examination)

Schedule (any change will be announced at least 5 days in advance) Time: 12.00-12.50 until 4 November, 12.00-12.50 & 2.00-2.50 thereafter

Days: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays

C2B: Sociology

Credits and contact hours: 3 credits, 48 hours.

Class Schedule: Tuesday (10-11 AM; 11:30 AM– 12:30 PM ), & Thursday (10:00 AM -11:00 AM)

Instructor: Sharachchandra Lele (

Credits: 3 (48 contact hours in the form of 16 sessions of 3-hours each)

Session time: Monday 9:50am-1pm (starting January 8th, 2018)

C4A: Research Methods in Social Sciences

Instructors: Bejoy K Thomas (coordinator), Siddappa Setty, Shikha Lakhanpal

Credits: 1 credit

C4B: Philosophy of Science and Natural Science Methods

Instructors: Aravind Madhyastha (Coordinator), R. Ganesan (Co-coordinator), Kartik Shanker, Priyadarsanan Dharma Rajan, Rengaian Ganesan, Soubadra Devy, T. Ganesh

Credits: Two credits

Field Course: (2-15 May)

Credits: 2

Lab: Thursday (11:00-11:50)

C1A: Ecology

Class schedule:Wednesdays and Fridays (1100‐1150)Number of credits: 2 credits

C1B: Fundamentals of Environmental Science

Course instructors: Priyanka Jamwal (Coordinator), Jagdish Krishnaswamy, Shrinivas Badiger, Veena SrinivasanNumber credits: 3

C2A: Economics for Environment and Development

Course instructors: Durba Biswas (Coordinator), Bejoy Thomas, Sharad LeleNumber of credits: 3

C2B: Sociology

Credits and contact hours: 3 credits, 48 hours.Class Schedule: Tuesday (10‐11 AM), Wednesday (14:00‐15:00) & Thursday (12:00‐13:00)

List of elective courses for 2017

E013: Environmental Governance: An Indian introduction

Instructors: Dr. Sharad Lele (Course co-ordinator) and Dr. Shikha Lakhanpal (Co-instructor)

Course description: Environmental governance is broadly the application of a political science and legal perspectives to environmental issues. The term, which has gained prominence recently, highlights the fact that from a period when ‘environmental policy-making’ and ‘environmental management’ was seen as the sole preserve of state agencies, it is now recognized that environmental decision-making involves multiple actors and their interactions. In the Indian context, this would include inter alia the judiciary, civil society groups, and the (rural and urban) communities that actually use and are affected by environmental change.

This course provides an introduction to the theoretical material on why and how environmental governance may be carried out and then will use examples from various sectors in India to understand the link between theory and practice. The topics covered are:

  • Nature of environmental crisis & environmental values
  • Terminology of institutional analysis and governance
  • Property rights and the environment
  • CPR theory
  • Regulatory theory


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Bangalore , India