MCM Curriculum

The interdisciplinary nature of conservation medicine requires practitioners to be skilled in a specific area, but also proficient at communicating with others outside of their field, and capable of catalyzing, organizing and producing integrated analyses or practical plans. Tufts University's innovative program in Conservation Medicine is a professional master's degree, which will build upon the expertise each student brings to the program. The curriculum is designed to provide graduates with foundational knowledge in the various contributing fields for conservation medicine, and develop their team building organizational and leadership skills necessary for successful implementation of real world conservation efforts.

The MCM program is a twelve-month program with a curriculum that consists of small seminar style courses, journal club and independent team-project-based activities culminating in an individual case study. Students must complete a four-week internship in a conservation medicine related setting. In addition, students must choose two elective courses from many different disciplines available to augment their educational and professional goals. No thesis is required.

If funding is available, select students may have the option of continuing with a research fellowship for another twelve months conducted under the mentorship of a program faculty member.

The following team-taught, interdisciplinary courses are specifically designed to address the needs of the conservation medicine professional.

Fall Semester

Spring Semester

Winter – January midterm and Summer Semesters

Course Descriptions

MCM 580
Ecology and Conservation Biology
3 credits
The concept that the health of the environment influences the health of humans and animals means that all students must understand fundamental principles of ecology and conservation biology. We review the foundational knowledge of how biodiversity and ecosystems foster healthy human and animal populations, through an understanding of population, community, and landscape ecology, and ecosystem resilience and stability. The conservation biology themes of rarity, demography, conservation genetics, and methods of conserving small populations are presented with the focus on sustaining long-term population viability. Students explore these concepts and apply knowledge through class discussion and presentations of case studies of current issues in the field.
MCM 581
Health, Disease and the Environment
3 credits
A basic and broad understanding of and fluency with human, animal and environmental health and disease is critical in conservation medicine. This class will review disease drivers and mechanisms, host defenses against disease, the role of vectors in spreading and maintaining disease, and basic principles of disease ecology. This class will review some current diseases of major concern for conservation medicine and ecosystem health. Emphasis will be placed on the integration of animal, human, and environmental health, and the environmental, economic, and anthropogenic factors promoting the emergence or persistence of infectious diseases and other major health threats.
MCM 582
Research Skills I - Systematic Review and Analysis Analysis
2 credits
In this course students will learn how to access, organize, analyze, interpret, and communicate data from existing sources of published primary research. Students will learn the process of writing a systematic review of the literature on a conservation medicine topic. The course will also review biostatistics in the context of understanding and critiquing methods and results in published papers with an emphasis on applications in population health.
MCM 583
Field and Laboratory Techniques
2 credits
Conservation medicine practice requires empirical health assessments of individuals and populations. Through this course students will become familiar with commonly used field and laboratory methods used to study populations and to assess health. Through field experiences students will be introduced to methods for estimating the size, distributions, and movements of populations for a range of taxa including mammals, birds and aquatic vertebrates. Animal handling and safety, sample collection and analysis, permitting, and field project planning are covered through both practical experience and lecture material. Students will participate in practical laboratory sessions using common research and diagnostics techniques including necropsy, immunology, microbiology, molecular genetics, and artificial reproduction techniques.
MCM 584
Journal Club
0.5 credits per semester (1 credit total)
Journal Club will familiarize students with topical scientific articles relevant to conservation medicine, help students become conversant in the language of different contributing disciplines and enhance analytical reading and critique skills. Journal articles will be coordinated with course material. Students take Journal Club in both the Fall and Spring semesters.
MCM 585
Case Study
2 credits per semester, including Summer (6 credits total)
Each student will undertake an intensive, year-long Case Study project to comprehensively analyze a challenging conservation medicine problem. The Case Study will culminate in a capstone project presentation and written report assessing the problem and recommending strategies to address identified challenges. Based on their own knowledge, skills and interests, each student will identify a relevant issue and be charged with synthesizing information and ideas from their coursework throughout the year and from a collaborative team involving appropriate faculty both within the University and through our network of conservation medicine partners. Completed Case Study reports will be evaluated by project partners and Tufts mentors. Students register for the Case Study each semester (Fall, Spring and Summer), complete their comprehensive written report during the summer, and present their Case Study in a special campus seminar in September of their graduating year.
MCM 586
Human Dimensions of Conservation Medicine
3 credits
Human political, economic, and cultural considerations help create the conditions that govern animal, human, and environmental health, and establish the context in which conservation medicine solutions are implemented. This course will examine the roles of economics, local, national and international governmental regulations, treaties and policies. It will also explore the influences that communities and local culture have on agriculture, trade, conservation, environment, land use, and public health.
MCM 587
Engineered Solutions
2 credits
Innovation and applied technology will play an increasingly significant role in developing sustainable solutions for many conservation medicine issues. Conservation professionals need to understand the options and potential of engineered solutions in both natural and built environments. In this course students will work within the context of systems engineering as a basis for problem solving. Applied topics will include: ecological engineering, hydrology, remote sensing (satellite, biological and chemical), engineered natural systems and environmental impact assessment methodologies.
MCM 588
Research Skills II - Surveillance Methods and Techniques
2 credits
An understanding of epidemiology and surveillance methods is integral for collecting, analyzing, and presenting health and disease data. Fundamental concepts of epidemiology will be presented including study design, disease outbreak investigation, and sources of error. Surveillance methods and systems will be discussed with opportunities for students to practice the design, evaluation, analysis, and integration of surveillance systems in a conservation medicine context. This course will highlight and develop student skills in various web-based technologies for data capture, analysis, and visualization.
MCM 589
Project Management and Communication
2 credits
This course will cover important communication skills that will enhance collaboration and dissemination of information to stakeholders (scientific community, public and government agencies) as well as the practical skills needed to initiate, fund, and manage research projects. Style and strategies for publication in scientific and lay journals, delivery of legislative briefings, and use of other media will be explored. Project development topics will include team building, seeking funders, grant writing, project development and management, and program and policy evaluation. Sessions on collaborative writing, data visualization, team management and leadership will be included.
MCM 590
Externship
3 credits
Students will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in conservation medicine work in their choice of a wide variety of settings for four weeks during the program year. Externships will provide students with insight into how conservation medicine issues are addressed and how interdisciplinary approaches can be applied in a real world setting. Students can participate in field, clinical, analytical, laboratory, project management, policy or other experiences of their choosing that meet elective requirement and are approved by the Program Director or Coordinator. Externships will be completed preferably during the winter break, though completion during the summer can be accommodated with permission, depending upon the opportunity.
MCM 517
Elective Course
4 credits total (approximately 2 credits per course)
Students are required to select two or more elective courses to augment the core curriculum and fulfill their own educational and professional goals. Students may choose from a wide variety of courses offered across the University, including the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering, Fletcher School, Medical School, Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine including the Center for Animals and Public Policy. Selections must fit within the scheduled time allotted to complete these electives. Courses available for electives vary by semester and year.