Blue Pioneers Program

About Us

The blue economy plays an essential role in China’s 21st Century development as the oceans are a major source of food production, employment, and livelihood. The rapid growth of the marine sector results in mounting pressures on the environment and natural resources in China’s coasts and oceans, namely overharvested or depleted fisheries, wetland loss, and pollution from land-based activities and aquaculture.

To create pipelines for the next-generation civil society leaders in marine conservation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Paradise Foundation and Yintai Foundation have sponsored the Blue Pioneers Program (BPP) since 2016. BPP was briefly piloted in Peking University in 2017. Since then, BPP has been primarily managed by the Environmental Research Center (ERC) at Duke Kunshan University. As the host institution, ERC has successfully trained over 60 Blue Pioneers in the past three years. We have also created synergies between BPP and DKU’s international Master of Environmental Policy (iMEP) program, a Duke professional master’s degree program. By sharing resources and networks, DKU is committed to educating a workforce that is literate in sustainability, business, and public policy with a focus on marine conservation.

The goal of the Blue Pioneers Program is to educate the next generation of leadership and incubate non-profit organizations and social enterprises in marine conservation. BPP has become an important information hub to provide knowledge and skills in marine conservation as well as a communications platform to build and expand professional networks.

Program Highlights

2023 Cohort​

2022 Cohort

2020 Cohort

2019 Cohort

2018 Cohort

Meet Blue Pioneers

Check what Blue Pioneers have said about the program and the experience…

2023 Annual Fair

2023 Cohort Recap

2022 Cohort Recap

You should apply if you ...

What you will get ...

  • are a rising leader in your early career
  • are eager to learn more about marine conservation and social entrepreneurship
  • are an open-minded and positive learner and team player
  • have innovative solutions for marine conservation in mind and need a testing ground
  • seek opportunities to connect with other outstanding blue pioneers in China
  • knowledge and skills related to marine conservation
  • coaching by distinguished scholars and practitioners
  • potential seed funding for your innovative marine conservation solutions
  • becoming part of a network of inspiring and enthusiastic young leaders

Frequently Asked Questions

When applications are open, we will post the link to the application form publicly on the program’s WeChat account and on the BPP website.

Applicants are required to submit a resume and complete an application form. Letters of recommendation are not required, but highly recommended.

All the applications will be reviewed by our committee members, and selected applicants will be invited for a virtual interview.

The cost of the training program will be borne by the organizer and the selected trainees will bear their own transportation costs to and from the training venue.

We will hold three intensive training modules of 3 to 4 days each. The interval between modules will be approximately one and a half to two months. During the training period, all trainees will be required to complete the group’s capstone projects and determine the location of their group field trips. 

The training program covers marine science, NGO management and social enterprise theory and practice. During the training, participants will also have the opportunity to attend international seminars focusing on cutting-edge topics in marine conservation Trainees who successfully completed the courses will also get access to further education resources offered by the Environmental Research Center at Duke Kunshan University.

The training modules will take place at Duke Kunshan University, which is in Kunshan City, Jiangsu Province. The field trips will be held at the Paradise Foundation’s Laohegou Protected area and Jinjiang City, Fujian Province.

For more information, please contact BPP program coordinator at