Conventional graduate training related to tropical conservation and development has typically separated the two fields, with students focusing on either conservation from the perspective of the biophysical sciences or development as an extension of the social sciences. On entering the workforce, however, graduates find they are required to work beyond disciplinary boundaries to address the complex interconnectivity between biological conservation and human well-being. We devised a framework for graduate education that broadens students' skill sets to learn outside their immediate disciplines and think in terms of linked socioecological systems, work in teams, communicate in nonacademic formats, and reflect critically on their own perspectives and actions. The University of Florida’s Tropical Conservation and Development program has adopted a learning and action platform that blends theory, skills, and praxis to create an intellectual, social, and professionally safe space where students, faculty, and other participants can creatively address the complex challenges of tropical conservation and development. This platform operates within a nondegree granting program and includes core courses that are taught by a team of biophysical and social scientists. It incorporates a range of alternative learning spaces such as student-led workshops, retreats, visiting professionals, practitioner experiences, and a weekly student-led seminar that collectively encourage students and faculty to enhance their skills and systematically and thoroughly reflect on program activities. Challenges to the described approach include increased service demands on faculty, a redefinition of research excellence to include effective and equitable collaboration with host-country partners, and the trade-offs and uncertainties inherent in more collaborative, interdisciplinary research. Despite these challenges, growing interdisciplinary programs, coupled with adaptive educational approaches that emphasize learning and action networks of students, faculty, and field partners, provide the best hope for responding to the emerging challenges of tropical conservation and development.