The Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative (ELTI) is a program of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES), in collaboration with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. ELTI’s mission is to build capacity for people making decisions about restoring and conserving tropical forests in mosaic landscapes that contain forest fragments and support other land uses (such as agriculture and mining) by offering training and professional development opportunities on related themes. Since 2006, ELTI has been coordinating field training courses, workshops and conferences about tropical forest conservation and restoration in tropical Asia and Latin America.
In May 2013, ELTI launched its first online training course in Spanish, an “Introduction to Tropical Forest Restoration”, as part of its new Web-Based Training Program. More than 400 people applied for the twenty-five places in the pilot course. Since then, the course has been offered to over 130 environmental leaders from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.
The online course is divided into six, weeklong thematic modules. The learning experience is largely asynchronous, allowing participants to complete the assignments at their own pace as they continue their professional responsibilities. The teaching tools consist of interactive presentations, prerecorded guest lectures (produced by Yale), reading assignments, case studies, short answer assignments, discussion forums and a final project. There are also optional synchronous discussion sessions that give the students the opportunity to interact directly with the course instructors.
Upon successful completion of their coursework, students earn a professional certificate from ELTI and Yale F&ES. This program represented Yale University’s first fully-online certificate program.