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Conservation Research Institute


Transitions towards Sustainability

26 February - 1 March 2019

Professor Pamela Matson, Stanford University, Tellus Mater Distinguished Fellow in Sustainability Studies 2019 

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We were delighted to welcome Professor Pamela Matson to Cambridge to take part in a week of lectures, seminars, events meetings and even a BBC interview from Tuesday 26th February to Friday 1 March.

Please take the time to watch watch Pamela's lecture The Practical Pursuit of Sustainability held on Tuesday 26th February. A truly fascinating talk where Pamela drew common threads among the different uses of Sustainability, and illustrated how systems thinking and a capital assets framework can be used to increase the likelihood of accomplishing sustainability goals.

Other activities included the following:

Wednesday 27th February - Linking Knowledge to Action at Scales that Matter: Lessons from the past, thoughts about the future

Pamela discussed some crucial characteristics of research that effectively  links “science to action,”  and practices for extending solutions to scales that matter.

Thursday 28th February -  Discussion with UCCRI on Interdisciplinary research

                                         - Leadership Seminar with MPhil Conservation Leadership


Friday 1st March- Final Symposium: Panel Discussion

This final symposium discussed Professor Matson’s work and issues raised in the the week. This was Chaired by Professor Bhaskar Vira and Guest Commentators included Dr Rachel Carmenta: (Geography, Plant Sciences and Zoology, UCCRI), Professor Jennifer Howard-Grenville (Judge Business School), Professor Adina Merenlender (Berkeley), Dr Andrew Tanentzap: (Plant Science, UCCRI)


The Tellus Mater Distinguished Fellowship is managed by the University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute (UCCRI) in cooperation with the Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Trust.  


PAMELA MATSON is an interdisciplinary sustainability scientist, academic leader, and organizational strategist. She served as dean of Stanford University’s School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences from 2002-2017, building interdisciplinary departments and  educational programs focused on resources, environment and sustainability, as well as co-leading university-wide interdisciplinary initiatives.  In her current role as the Goldman Professor of Environmental Studies and Senior Fellow in the Woods Institute for the Environment, she leads the graduate program on Sustainability Science and Practice.  Her research addresses a range of environment and sustainability issues, including sustainability of agricultural systems, vulnerability and resilience of particular people and places to climate change, and characteristics of science that can contribute to sustainability transitions at scale.

Matson serves as chair of the board of the World Wildlife Fund-US, and on the boards of the World Wildlife Fund - International, ClimateWorks Foundation,  California Academy of Sciences, and several university advisory boards.  She served on the US National Academy of Science Board on Sustainable Development and co-wrote the National Research Council’s volume Our Common Journey:  A transtion toward sustainability (1999); she also led the NRC committee on America’s Climate Choices: Advancing the Science of Climate Change.   She was the founding chair of the National Academies Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability, and founding editor for the Annual Review of Environment and Resources. She is a past President of the Ecological Society of America, and a past vice-chair of the science steering committee of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program.  Her recent publications (among around 200) include Seeds of Sustainability: Lessons from the Birthplace of the Green Revolution (2012) and Pursuing Sustainability (2016).

Dr. Matson is an elected member of the National Academy of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a AAAS Fellow.  She received a MacArthur Foundation Award and contributed to the award of the Nobel Prize to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, among other awards and rcognitions.

The WEIDENFELD-HOFFMANN TRUST is an educational charity set up by the late Lord Weidenfeld and its chairman André Hoffmann. The Trust provides around thirty graduate scholarships a year for young people from developing and emerging economies to study at Oxford and participate in a specially created Leadership Programme which gives them the tools to return to their countries and make a difference in whichever sphere they can. The Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Trust is the largest philanthropic scholarship supported by Oxford University. Since 2007, 239 scholars from 66 countries have benefited from this programme. For more information please visit: and follow on twitter and instagram.

HUMANITAS is a series of Visiting Professorships at Oxford intended to bring leading practitioners and scholars to the University to address major themes in the arts, social sciences and humanities. Created by the late Lord Weidenfeld, the Programme is managed and funded by the Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Trust with the support of a series of generous benefactors.