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Dr. Karen L. Eckert

Professor of Sustainability
Director of the Center for Sustainability
Chair of the Sustainability Department

Teaching Area



  • PhD, Zoology, University of Georgia
  • Certificate in Global Policy Studies, University of Georgia
  • BS, Principia College


"Whether in the classroom or in the company of industry leaders, conservationists, or elected officials, teaching is about inspiring ourselves to be more than we thought we could be. I’ve always cherished opportunities to motivate and encourage through shared teaching and learning experiences, and what better place to do that than at Principia!"

Dr. Karen Eckert specializes in international biodiversity management, conservation, and policy with a focus on sea turtles. Her research has taken her throughout the Western Atlantic and into the Mediterranean Sea, Eastern Tropical Pacific, and Southeast Asia. She is a valued consultant to governments, inter-governmental bodies, and nonprofit organizations worldwide. As director of the Center for Sustainability at Principia, Eckert brings a wealth of experience in developing and implementing innovative solution landscapes at local, national, and international scales—skills which encourage and empower students to become successful “change agents” for sustainability in the 21st century. Her responsibilities extend beyond the classroom into mentoring student-led “green” initiatives on (and off) campus, helping to assess College-wide sustainability performance, and encouraging the integration of sustainability targets in Principia’s planning and implementation processes.

Scholarly Interests

  • Sustainability
  • Marine biology with a focus on migratory species
  • Community-based conservation
  • National endangered species recovery planning
  • International conservation policy

Contributions to Field

Since 1989, Eckert has served as executive director of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST), a Regional Activity Network of the United Nations Environment Programme. Embracing more than 40 countries, WIDECAST has pioneered the development of sustainable policies and conservation models that have resulted in protection of endangered sea turtles and their critical habitats across the Western Central Atlantic Region. In addition, her emphasis on micro-enterprise development, entrepreneurial conservation models, and inclusive management planning has provided sustainable livelihood options to communities that once relied on the killing of endangered species for nutrition and income.


  • Lifetime Achievement Award (2020), International Sea Turtle Society
  • Lifetime Commitment to Conservation Award (2019), Columbus Zoo & Aquarium
  • ChevronTexaco Conservation Award (2003)
  • Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation (1996)
  • UN Global 500 Roll of Honour for Environmental Achievement (1994)

Memberships and Affiliations

  • International Union for the Conservation of Nature (Species Survival Commission)
  • Ecological Society of America
  • International Sea Turtle Society
  • U.S. Recovery Team for Marine Turtles
  • Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education
  • International Society of Sustainability Professionals
  • U.S. Green Building Council

Publications and Presentations

Eckert has published more than 130 scientific articles, books, technical manuals, and policy documents. See the CV below for details.

Dr. Karen Eckert CV