Blue Pioneer Program | Duke Kunshan University


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Blue Pioneer Program

Jun 03rd 2018 10:00

Training Leaders for China’s Blue Economy

China’s blue economy will play a central role in the country’s 21st Century development. China’s coastal provinces, with just 14% of its land area, have half the population of the country and two-thirds of the economic activity. The oceans are a major source of food production and a major source of employment and economic activity. In the coming decade, China’s maritime economy is expected to achieve a growth rate nearly twice that of other sectors.

This growth is challenged because China’s coasts and oceans face mounting pressures and threats. More than half of China’s fisheries are overharvested and depleted. More than 60% of China’s coastal wetlands have been lost to development. And, pollution carried by rivers to China’s coasts produces vast “dead zones” and contaminates seafood produced in the rapidly growing coastal aquaculture industry.

The complex economic, environmental and social issues around our oceans require business acumen and leadership to provide sustainable change. Over the next two decades, there will be a tremendous need for leaders and entrepreneurs who can build organizations that innovate to solve these challenges facing China’s blue economy and who can create businesses that can provide sustainable economic, social and environmental benefits from China’s marine resources.

In 2018, the Paradise Foundation, in partnership with Environmental Research Center of Duke Kunshan University and China’s Yintai Foundation, has established the Blue Pioneer Program to identify and train the new leaders of China’s blue economy.

The Blue Pioneer Program will enable young leaders to take effective action to build the corporations, nonprofits and social enterprises that can successfully solve the sustainability and economic challenges that China faces in and around its oceans, coasts, fisheries and aquaculture sectors.

The Blue Pioneer Program will empower social entrepreneurs who devote themselves to marine conservation. The Blue Pioneer Program participants will gain essential training and knowledge that will enable them to launch and grow social enterprises or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) related to the ocean. The Blue Pioneer Program provide seed funds and a field trip Silicon Valley to accelerate the social enterprises of participants.

In 2018, the Blue Pioneer Program will also provide Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to wider audience including college students and general public. It also encourages college students to pursue a social enterprise career related to marine conservation.

Who May Apply

Any professionals with interests in marine conservation and more than two years’ experience in NGOs and/or social enterprises. Managers from corporate social responsibility department and journalist related to marine conservation are welcome to apply.

The blue Pioneer Program will provide seed funds to support new social organizations on marine conservation. The work plan and criteria will be released on the launching day.


Tuition, meals and lodging are covered by the program. Students admitted into the program will be responsible for the travel cost.

Important Dates


April 11 to May 11, 2018

Module 1

June 2-5, 2018

Module 2

August 23-26, 2018

Module 3

November 1-4, 2018

Field Trip

July, 2018

Course Descriptions Click here for more course details 


The Paradise Foundation is a nonprofit organization that focuses on protecting prestigious lands and waters around the world. Initiated by a number of well-known entrepreneurs, artists and philanthropists in China, The Paradise International Foundation is now led by co-chairmen Jack Ma, Pony Ma, and executive chairman Shen Guojun. The foundation honors cooperation and expands its conservation projects globally in regions of high conservation value. We attach great importance to local conservation and management capacity building, helping to explore sustainable fund-raising models and promote environmental-friendly products. Outdoor activities are organized for the public, especially for the young people, with volunteer jobs being provided. By doing so, we aim to encourage more people to lead a healthy lifestyle that contains the wisdom of “from nature, back to nature” and fulfill our vision of “preserving more green mountains and clear waters for future generations”.

Duke Kunshan University is a partnership of Duke University and Wuhan University to create a world-class university offering a range of academic programs and conferences for students from China and throughout the world. The Environmental Research Center of Duke Kunshan University is based on the reputation of Duke University in environmental research and maintains close cooperation with Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, Sanford School of Public Policy, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy, and Duke Energy Initiative.

Instructor Bios

Jianyu Zhang, Vice President/Chief Representative, EDF Beijing Representative Office

Dr. Zhang is EDF chief representative in China.  He received a bachelor's degree from Tsinghua University, a master's degree from Stanford University, and a doctoral degree from Carnegie Mellon University. He joined EDF in 1999 and is currently the chief representative of EDF in China. Dr. Zhang has committed to the development of a combination of environmental protection and public policy research, focusing on the use of market methods to solve environmental problems. He Initiated and participated in research and practice work in many fields such as carry out sulfur dioxide emissions trading in energy sector; voluntary carbon emissions trading system; greenhouse gas emissions and a variety of pollutants control; agricultural greenhouse gas emissions; green supply chain; environmental law enforcement.

Junjie Zhang, Director, Environmental Research Center, Duke Kunshan University

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. His research topics cover air pollution, water resources, energy and climate change.

Rashild Sumaila, Professor and Director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit at UBC Fisheries Centre

Dr. Ussif Rashid Sumaila is Professor and Director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit at UBC Fisheries Centre. He specializes in bioeconomics, marine ecosystem valuation and the analysis of global issues such as fisheries subsidies, IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing and the economics of high and deep seas fisheries. Sumaila has experience working in fisheries and natural resource projects in Norway, Canada and the North Atlantic region, Namibia and the Southern African region, Ghana and the West African region and Hong Kong and the South China Sea. He has published articles in several journals including, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Journal of Bioeconomics, Land Economics, ICES Journal of Marine Science, Environmental and Resource Economics and Ecological Economics. Sumaila’s work has generated a great deal of interest, and has been cited by, among others, the Economist, the Boston Globe, the International Herald Tribune and the Vancouver Sun.

James E. Wilen, Professor, University of California, Davis

James E. Wilen is Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis (UCD), and Director of the Center for Natural Resource Policy Analysis at UCD. Before joining UC Davis he was at the Universities of British Columbia and Washington in the Departments of Economics. 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. 

Patrick Halpin, Associate Professor of the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University

Patrick Halpin is an 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.

Elizabeth Losos, Adjunct Professor of the Nicholas School of the Environment, senior fellow at the Nicholas Institute, Duke University

Elizabeth Losos is currently exploring how to plan for and optimize the environmental impact of infrastructure expansion in Asia, Africa, and Europe that is stimulated by China’s new silk road initiative.
Losos formerly was president and CEO of the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS), a global consortium of universities and research institutes with the mission of promoting education, research, and the responsible use of natural resources in the tropics. Loss directed the organization’s four research stations in Costa Rica and South Africa as well as undergraduate, graduate, and professional field-based educational programs in tropical biology, conservation, global health, and environmental policy. Prior to her tenure with OTS, Losos was the director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Tropical Forest Science, a global network of large-scale forest demography plots. Losos holds a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton University, a master’s degree in public administration and international affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton, and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University.

Jiaxiang Xia, Secretary General of Coral Reef Conservation and Restoration Volunteers Association (Dive for Love), Dapeng New District, Shenzhen City

Dive for Love is a public benefit movement jointly initiated by Dapeng New District and for the conservation and restoration of coral reefs. By running a range of marine environment protection awareness campaigns, the program aims at promoting the implementation of coral reef conservation plans and construction of coral reef conservation areas in Dapeng New District and thereby improving the Dapeng Peninsula’s oceanic ecology. To create a coral-friendly ecology, we motivate divers, government, fishing villages, the public and business companies working together to participate in coral reef conservation movements that aim at changing people’s exploitive attitude toward of the ocean; we promote divers’ action in participating in the improvement of coral reef eco-system; we give lectures on marine ecology in fishers’ children’s schools; we have been talking fishers out of anchoring and casting net in coral reef habitations; and we have successfully established the offshore coral reef conservation area in cooperation with the local government.

Dezhi Wang, Vice President & Chief Scientist, Paradise Foundation

Wang Dezhi graduated from School of Life Sciences, Peking University, with a doctoral degree in zoology and conservation biology. He is also an alumnus of Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, EMBA Program 25. Apart from being a co-founder, Mr. Wang is the current vice president and chief scientist of the foundation, responsible for offering scientific guidance and implementing conservation projects. With more than 10 years of working experience in ecological conservation, Ma Jian used to be working with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) from 2008 to 2015, taking in charge of the implementation of Meili Snow Mountain National Park project, ecological restoration and conservation projects in Inner Mongolia and all the wilderness projects from TNC China.

Margot Stiles, Chief of Strategy at Oceana

Margot currently leads a team offering strategy development and coaching to Oceana staff in Mexico, Brazil, and the Philippines.  In this work she draws on 13 years of experience at Oceana and 19 years of experience in ocean conservation, science and policy.  She also leads Oceana’s research and partnerships in new countries. Margot helped Oceana’s offices in Belize and Chile, and provided technical support to help create a marine protected area with 23,000 square miles of deep sea corals along the Atlantic Coast of the United States. Prior to Oceana, Margot worked for Seattle Audubon, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, World Wildlife Fund and The Nature Conservancy. She speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese. Margot earned her M.S. in marine biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and B.A. in biology from Vassar College.  She is an avid kayaker and enjoys tending her garden. 

Han Han, Founder of China Blue Sustainability Institute

Han Han is the founder of China Blue Sustainability Institute, the first Chinese public benefit organization to focus on fishery resources in China. She started her career working on the eco-compensation system for tropical rainforest at Hainan Research Institute of Environmental Science, before joining Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), where she dedicated herself to the research of sustainable development of aquaculture. Han Han founded the China Blue Sustainability Institute in 2015, marking the birth of the first Chinese fishery public benefit organization. She received her bachelor’s degree in environmental chemistry from School of the Environment, Nanjing University in 2001.

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.

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. In her first project, which culminated in her MA thesis she focused on pollution victims and their access to justice. This thesis, entitled "Access to Justice in Environmental Disputes: Opportunities and Obstacles for Chinese Pollution Victims" sought to identify various structural, political, financial, technical, legal and cultural obstacles Chinese citizens face in the process of invoking their legal rights. It was based on empirical qualitative data derived from fieldwork in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The thesis used that data to engage with socio-legal literature on rights invocation and apply and further develop this in the context of China’s pollution victims.

Larry Crowder, Senior Fellow - Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment; Edward Ricketts Provostial 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 studied food web processes in both freshwater and marine ecosystems, and 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). He has also directed and participated in a number of research, analysis, and synthesis groups at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and for the National Research Council’s Ocean Studies Board. His recent research has focused on marine conservation, including research on bycatch, spatial ecological analysis, nutrients and low oxygen, sustainable seafood, ecosystem-based management, marine spatial planning, and governance. He is a AAAS Fellow and was awarded Duke University’s Scholar/Teacher of the year award in 2008-2009.

MA Jun, Director of Institute of Public and Environment Affairs (IPE)

MA Jun 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 including WEN Jiabao, Premier of the State Council, CHEN Guangcheng, Chinese Civil Rights Activist, HUANG Guangyu, Chinese home appliances magnate and Ang Lee, Taiwanese Director. On April 17, 2015 at Skoll Awards ceremony in Oxford, England, MA 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.

MAO Da, Founder and member of the China Zero Waste Alliance

Mao Da, founder and member of China Zero Waste Alliance, Ph.D. in environmental history from Beijing Normal University. Combining years of NGO work experience, Dr. MAO Da established the China Zero Waste Alliance in 2011. Currently, it has recruited 58 members who are distributed in 25 cities across the country. Through frontline operations and literature research, Dr. MAO Da is an expert and independent researcher in waste.

KONG Ning, Cross-disciplinary Artist

KONG Ning was a prosecutor and lawyer. In 2001, she began creating paintings, performance art, installations, short films, documentaries, and poetry. For eighteen years of her artistic career, she has always been creating arts of life and ecology. Her "Smog Art" series has attracted worldwide attention. KONG Ning had been featured by international media such as the BBC, Reuters, AFP, the Associated Press, the New York Times for her 2013 "Smog Baby" and "Marry the Blue Sky". KONG Ning has expressed her love for the Earth in ever-changing forms of leaves, water droplets, etc. and "married" the earth for 39 times, making the Chinese and foreign media artists calling her the "Earth Bride." KONG Ning walked the world and conveyed green values and her "Little Blue Man" that treads gently on the planet Earth was selected by the Paris Climate Conference as the exclusive environmental artist to be launched to the world media. KONG Ning, along with her “mask” arts, now recorded by an arts documentary by Germany and France, has now become the most powerful and influential environmental artist in the world.

Binbin Li, Assistant Professor, Duke Kunshan University TBD

Dr. Binbin Li is the Assistant Professor of Environmental Sciences of the Environmental Research Center at Duke Kunshan University. She holds a secondary appointment with Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke 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).

Kui PENG, Program Manager of the Ecological Conservation and Community Development Program at GEI

Dr. Kui PENG is the Program Manager of the Ecological Conservation and Community Development Program at GEI. Dr. Peng has 18 years of experience in ecology and land use management, with specializations in sustainable community development and GIS and remote sensing application. His work at GEI, in close partnership with local, provincial, and state levels, involves guiding conservation and sustainable development projects for communities in western and northern China, namely Ningxia, Qinghai and Inner Mongolia,as well as in Southeast Asia. Under his leadership, he has led capacity building trainings for local communities and non-governmental organizations on ecosystems services-based economy development. His current work focuses on providing climate adaptation and conservation strategies across 12 western provinces in China. His program obtained several domestic and international honor awards.

Yonglong Liu, Chairman of Shanghai Rendu NPO Development Center

Founder and Chairman of Shanghai Rendu NPO Development Center, Supervisor of the China Zero Waste Alliance, Coordinator of the International Beach Cleaning Initiative in Mainland China. Graduated from the Faculty of Law, Fudan University, he started his participation in public benefit as a volunteer in 2000. In 2008, he left the state-owned company he worked for to fully devote himself in public benefit. In 2007, he launched Shanghai Rendu NPO Development Center to promote China's marine waste management practices.

HE Xin, Assistant Researcher, Natural History Research Center, Shanghai Natural History Museum

HE Xin holds a PhD in Ecology from East China Normal University and his research focuses are animal ecology and conservation biology. During his Ph.D. study, he was mainly engaged in the spatial behavioral ecology research of the reintroduction of Hydropotes inermis in Shanghai. During the postdoctoral period, he was mainly responsible for the coordination of the second terrestrial vertebrate survey in Shanghai. At present, he is mainly engaged in research on bird diversity and habitat in Jiangsu coastal areas, Shanghai Nanhui Dongtan, and Jiuduansha Wetland National Nature Reserve. He enjoys nature in his spare time, and is particularly fond of bird watching and photography. His has travelled to various parts of the country and places in Europe, Asia, and South America. He is a senior member of the Wild Bird Society of Shanghai, China and a graduate of the Nature Film Academy, Wild China Film. He actively develops and utilizes his specialty in natural science and is a member of the Shanghai Popular Science Writers Association. HE Xin has given more than 100 lectures on popular science topics at various platforms including Shanghai Association for Science and Technology Forum, Luluo Jiangtang Fotum of Shanghai Natural History Museum, Xinmin Science Cafe, Guokr One Youth Talk, TEDx, Shanghai Library, Shanghai Botanical Garden, Shanghai Zoo, Beijing Museum of Nature History, China National Geography and so on. He is also a guest speaker at Shanghai Media Group for a series of popular science shows, and has written hundreds of articles for many popular science magazines and new media platforms. Last but not least, he is an active educator who is passionate about science popularization and environmental education of various forms.