Blue Pioneer Program | Duke Kunshan University


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Blue Pioneer Program

On March 21, 2016, Mr. Guojun Shen, on behalf of Yintai Foundation and the Paradise Foundation, met with Ms. Jane Lubchenco. They decided to cooperate and launched Blue Pioneers Program (BPP) – to build a strong Chinese Marine Conservation Leadership in the Chinese non-profit sector.

(Ms. Jane Lubchenco (on the left), prominent American Marine scientist, former director of The national Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), director of The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, director of The Nature Conservancy(TNC), global board of directors, and a member of President Obama's science advisor team. Mr. Shen Guojun (on the right), chairman of Yintai group, founder of Yintai Foundation, executive chairman of the Paradise Foundation.)

In 2016, the BPP program enrolled 15 outstanding students from the Social Welfare Management Department, Guanghua School of Management, Peking University, MBA, in China Marine Conservation field, and Marine Science community.

In 2018, the Environment Research Center of Duke Kunshan University, in cooperation with Packard Foundation, the Paradise Foundation and Yintai Foundation, hosted BPP in Kunshan. During the 11 months, three modules of intensive training, two field trips in Liaoning and Hainan protected areas were given to 20 trainees from academia, non-profit sector, marine related industries. Under the guidance of more than 20 Chinese and international scientists, non-governmental organization experts and social entrepreneurs, trainees successfully completed all the courses and started their new journey in marine conservation course.

BPP will continue to recruit in 2019. Stay tuned!

For more information about Environment Research Center at DKU, please click here.

Junjie Zhang, Director

Environmental Research Center, Duke Kunshan University

Professor Junjie Zhang is Founding Director of Environmental Research Center and Master of Environmental Policy (iMEP) Program at Duke Kunshan University, and an Associate Professor of Environmental Economics at Duke Kunshan University and at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. He is also a Senior Adviser of Asia Society. Prior to the current position, he was an associate professor in the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California, San Diego. Zhang's research centers on empirical issues in environmental and resource economics. He adopts an interdisciplinary approach that integrates social sciences, engineering and natural sciences to deal with environmental policy problems.

Kathinka Furst, Associate Director

Environmental Research Center, Duke Kunshan University

Dr. Fürst received her PhD degree at the Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam and her MA degree at the Center from Environment and Development at the University of Oslo. She has a BA in Sinology from Beijing Language and Culture University. Her research generally looks at environmental regulation and justice in China. Her research focuses on identifying various structural, political, financial, technical, legal and cultural obstacles Chinese citizens face in the process of invoking their legal rights faced with environmental pollutions.

Binbin Li, Assistant Professor

Environmental Research Center, Duke Kunshan University

Dr. Binbin Li is the Assistant Professor of Environmental Sciences of the Environmental Research Center at Duke Kunshan University. Her research focuses on loss of biodiversity, endangered and endemic species conservation such as giant pandas, priority setting and management of protected areas, and promotion of innovative technology, markets and policies to solve conservation problems and local community development. Dr. Li got her PhD in Environment from Duke University (2017), M.S in Natural Resources and Environment from University of Michigan (2012), and B.S in Life Sciences with a dual degree in Economics from Peking University (2010).

Larry Crowder, Senior Fellow

Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
Edward Ricketts Provost Professor, Biology, Hopkins Marine Station
Science Director, Center for Ocean Solutions

Dr. Larry Crowder is the Center for Ocean Solutions Science Director and Professor of Biology. His research centers on predation and food web interactions, mechanisms underlying recruitment variation in fishes, population and food web modeling in conservation biology, and interdisciplinary approaches to marine conservation. He has used observational, experimental, and modeling approaches to understand these interactions in an effort to improve management. He was principal investigator for a number of large interdisciplinary research projects including the South Atlantic Bight Recruitment Experiment, OBIS SEAMAP (Spatial Ecological Analysis of Megavertebrate Animal Populations), and Project GLOBAL (Global Bycatch Assessment of Long-Lived Species).

Patrick Halpin, Associate Professor

Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University

Professor Patrick Halpin is the Associate Professor of Marine Geospatial Ecology in the Marine Science and Conservation Division of the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University. Prof. Halpin leads the Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab with laboratory facilities located at the main campus of Duke University as well as the Duke University Marine Lab. He received his Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia in 1995. Prof. Halpin’s research focuses on marine geospatial analysis, ecological applications of geographic information systems and remote sensing; marine conservation and ecosystem-based management.

James Wilen, Distinguished Professor

Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis (UCD), and Director of the Center for Natural Resource Policy Analysis at UCD

Professor James Wilen’s research focuses broadly on natural resource economics and specifically on the impact of policy options on economic and ecological health of fisheries. Some recent research addresses microeconomic behavior under open access exploitation, property rights solutions to fisheries management, analysis of marine reserves, fisheries bycatch problems, spatial models of resource use, and policy reform in developing country fisheries.

Li Ding, Vice President

Non-Profit Incubator (NPI)

Ms. Ding Li is the Vice President of NPI – one of the leading NGO supporting organizations in China. Ms. Ding is in charge of PR & Communication, R&D and strategic planning for NPI, also leading the new programs such as Social Entrepreneur Institute, Social Innovation Park (the Nest Program) and Venture Philanthropy Fund etc., as well as expanding network for NPI. From Apr 2005 to Apr 2008, she was working for Conservation International China Program as Business Partnerships Program Officer in charge of engaging top enterprises towards eco-friendly business operation and direct investment on conservation programs. Before that, Ms. Ding Li was working for Unilever China as Marketing Controller for 2 years; she also served as Senior Product Manager and Brand Manager for L’Oreal China and Danone Group.

Jun Ma, Director

Institute of Public and Environment Affairs

Jun Ma is the founder and director of Institute of Public and Environment Affairs. He directed the compilation works of the first nonprofit Chinese water pollution database called “China Water Pollution Map”, which provides information of the water quality, pollutant discharge and pollution source of over 300 prefecture-level divisions from 31 provincial administrations. In May of 2006, he was listed in Times 100 Most Influential People of 2006, along with other most significant Chinese figures. On April 17, 2015 at Skoll Awards ceremony in Oxford, England, Jun was one of the four awardees of Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship, making him the first Chinese national to receive the Skoll award which shows concern for global issues.

Songlin Wang

China Program Director of Ocean Outcomes

Songlin is an experienced and passionate conservation professional. His career includes work for The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, and The Paulson Institute, among others. He has planned, led, and coordinated a number of large-scale sustainable fisheries and aquaculture projects and wetlands conservation projects. His efforts helped guide the first Marine Stewardship Council certification of a Chinese fishery and created enabling conditions for the first two Chinese fish farms to be certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council. He also advises leading international and Chinese NGOs on coastal and marine biodiversity conservation issues. Trained first as a marine ecologist at the Ocean University of China, and then an environmental manager at Yale, Songlin excels at exploring conservation solutions from political, market, and scientific angles. He is fluent in Mandarin and English and in his spare time enjoys reading, traveling, sports, and keeping ornamental freshwater fish.

In 2018, three modules of intensive training provided courses including but not limited to Marine Environmental Management, Social Entrepreneurship and Non-profit Organization Management. The 2019 training courses are still under design. Please go to Connect with Us and subscribe our email news-letter!


Hainan Zhiyu

The experience was unique: learning to use commercial methods for public benefit. I am happy with what I am doing now: encouraging everyone to protect the oceans through green consumption.


Natural Resources Defense Council

We started from the perspective of sustainable development of Marine fisheries. After efficiently combining institution operation, we finally developed the idea into a preliminary business plan.


BPP not only brings me solid knowledge but also the power of companions. I'm not alone in protecting the ocean.


Through BPP, I started to passionately dream about pursuing common welfare through protecting the ocean. And I hope that citizens, business and experts can come together to protect the oceans.


In addition to conveying love of the ocean, we need scientific tools to convert a diver's love for the ocean into action


In BPP, I saw that more young people become concerned about the environment. Chinese consumers are becoming the main force in the global Marine tourism market, and we hope to see Chinese youth become the main force in Marine Conservation.

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