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Harrisburg, PA – Harrisburg University of Science and Technology (HU) is proud to announce the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with George Mason University (Mason) and the Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation (SMSC), located on the grounds of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo Conservation Biology Institute (NZCBI). This transformative partnership gives HU students and faculty access to new resources and researchers who are actively advancing the frontiers of biodiversity and sustainability research, conservation efforts, natural resource management, and other educational and policy imperatives.

The MOU establishes a framework for collaboration between Harrisburg University learners and leaders, and SMSC’s world-class researchers and instructors focused on addressing critical environmental challenges through innovative field studies, applied technology, and data-informed conservation strategies.

“This is an exciting time to be a learner at Harrisburg University,” said Cameron McCoy, PhD, Provost and Chief Academic Officer at HU. “Our regional location is perfectly positioned to give next-generation leaders access to some of the nation’s most precious natural resources and the organizations doing exceptional work to study and preserve them. I’m very pleased to help announce this memorandum of understanding with the Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation – and to celebrate the practical, immersive, and sustainability work being done in the area that our learners now have access to. This is another inspiring example of how Harrisburg University actively embeds its skills-focused curriculum across practical experiences towards real-world impact.”

SMSC is a one-of-a-kind partnership between Mason and the Smithsonian Institution. NZCBI spearheads efforts by the Smithsonian Institution to save wildlife species from extinction, and natural environments from permanent destruction, by engaging new generations of conservationists in meaningful and practical field- and lab-work experiences that perfectly complement their academic studies. NZCBI, located in Front Royal, VA, has training sites and field research stations situated worldwide.

“Mason and the Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation (SMSC) are excited to form a partnership with Harrisburg University,” said Cody Edwards, PhD, Executive Director of SMSC. “This MOU allows HU students the unique opportunity to study and conduct research with many of the world’s leading conservation scientists. Including students from partner universities like HU is critical to the mission of SMSC and makes this program truly one-of-a-kind. We are also excited about the opportunities this partnership will bring to faculty at HU, Mason, and SMSC. We look forward to welcoming the first students and faculty from HU to SMSC and know they will bring welcomed passion and talent with them!”

The partnership is an ideal fit for Mason, SMSC, and HU alike; the institutions prize experiential learning and can draw upon the other’s complementary strengths. In turn, Mason, SMSC, and HU researchers will benefit mutually as they tackle today’s most complex and urgent biodiversity and conservation challenges not only from a scientific perspective but within a social, economic, and political context.

This newly minted MOU will provide HU students access to unique conservation programming through their residential academic offerings that cover the breadth of conservation biology, emphasizing applied problem solving, critical thinking, and immersive experiential learning. 

The benefits of the partnership extend to HU faculty as well, by promoting the exchange of information and curriculum content, and opening pathways to collaborative research and visiting professorships or lectures.

“We’re not slowing down when it comes to creating new pathways and opportunities,” said M. Dana Harriger, PhD, Associate Professor of Biology at Harrisburg University. “The Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation is a phenomenal partner for our students and Harrisburg University. I know there will be considerable interest in the learning and collaborative opportunities this new pathway unlocks.”


Harrisburg University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and is a private, nonprofit university offering bachelor’s and graduate degree programs in the fields of science, technology, and mathematics. For additional information about the University’s affordable, demand-driven undergraduate and graduate programs, please call 717-901-5146 or email Stay updated by following Harrisburg University on XLinkedInInstagram, and Facebook.