The Harris World Ecology Center (HWEC), through a unique set of partnerships, promotes research and training in basic ecology and biodiversity conservation across the globe, and increases public awareness and interest in issues relating to global natural resource conservation. The center is housed within the Department of Biology at the University of Missouri St. Louis, and works closely with The Missouri Botanical Garden and the Saint Louis Zoo.
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The Harris Center offers fellowships and scholarships to students whose studies relate to conservation. These include fully-funded Christensen and St. Louis Zoo Fellowships for Ph.D. or masters students who plan to take on decision-making positions in order to protect biodiversity. The center also provides training in conservation implementation via undergraduate and graduate certificate programs that place students with local, national, and international conservation NGOs and government agencies.
The Harris Center presents the World Ecology Award to eminent individuals who have made significant contributions to the protection of the global environment and to a better understanding of the balance between human habitation and the Earth's biodiversity. The first World Ecology Award was presented in 1990 to recording artist, film star and activist John Denver, who accepted the award at the Center's first major event, a World Ecology Day held on the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus. Since that time, the Harris Center has presented the award to twenty-two individuals.
In addition to the presentations of the World Ecology Award, the Harris Center hosts outreach events in Saint Louis, including the Jane and Whitney Harris Lecture Series and the Whitney and Anna Harris Conservation Forum.