Students must select one of the three concentrations as an important component of the Master’s of Natural Resources Conservation: Aquatic Resource Management, Forest Resource Management or Sustainable Communities. The concentrations add context, focus and ways of approaching environmental problems, while occupying roughly ¼ of the coursework (9 credits) in the master’s program. The bulk of the master’s program content lies in the core courses (23 credits), which provide students a broadly applicable experience in natural resources management and policy. The core courses ground student learning in a powerful and universal adaptive management planning framework which includes phases in planning/management and monitoring/evaluation.

The concentration theme culminates in the final project. The 6-credit final project sequence asks graduate students to interpret and apply what they learned in previous courses through the lens of their chosen concentration to address a real-world problem. For example, students in the Forest Resource Management concentration will draw on the forest ecology, natural resource valuation and policy concepts they learned in their three concentration courses as they engage their final project.

In sum, the program is best understood as a Master’s in natural resources policy and management, with a smaller but significant focus on the chosen concentration.

Aquatic Resource Management Concentration

It is impossible to overestimate the current and future importance of global water resource availability, security and quality in terms of both ecosystem integrity and human health.

Aquatic Resource Management Courses:

Water Law, Policy and Regulation: This course explores a) how and why U.S. water law and policy have changed over time including the influence of new stressors in the future; b) specific laws, policies, and regulations governing water allocation and conservation of water resources, and protection and restoration of riparian zones and floodplain, wetlands, and water quality; and c) case studies showing successes, shortcomings, and lessons learned.

Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems: This course helps students develop the skills needed to a) define benchmark restoration conditions for aquatic/terrestrial transition zones (ATTZs), b) identify the degree to which ecosystem structure and function of ATTZs have been lost, c) identify the effects of altered land cover on watershed process, and d) develop short- and long-term management plans.

Assessment of Aquatic Resources: This course entails a scientific study of the physical, chemical and biological attributes of water bodies (lakes, wetlands, and streams) to determine the level of potential impairment based on systematically collected data. The course provides the student with the basic skills and knowledge to collect useful data typically required during the assessment phase of resource management efforts.

Forest Resource Management Concentration

With the burgeoning demands placed on forest ecosystems by a growing human population, safeguarding and restoring ecosystem functions for a sustainable future is more vital than ever.

Forest Resource Management Courses:

Natural Resources Economics: This course explores important economic principles relevant to natural resource management with an emphasis on forest-based resources. Topics include supply and demand, pricing, investment evaluation, net revenue maximization, non-timber forest products and the emerging field of ecosystem service valuation.

Forest Policy: This course identifies the major scientific and social drivers which have created new paradigms in forestry. Policy and actual forestry practices will be critically compared to examine how land-use decisions are made. General topics will include historical land-use shifts, environmentalism, economic shifts, interagency conflict, conservation mechanisms, and cross-border forest policies.

Forest Resources Assessment: Forests contribute to community resilience by regulating water flows, sequestering carbon, harboring biodiversity and providing food, energy, shelter, income and employment. This course provides the student with the basic skills and knowledge to collect useful data typically required during the assessment phase of resource management efforts, reflecting the diversity of uses and services provided by forests.

Sustainable Communities Concentration

Truly sustainable communities are founded on key ecosystem services such as clean water, productive soils, and integrated networks of social and economic capital.

Sustainable Communities Courses:

Sustainable Development: This course explores three complex and linked challenges: ending extreme poverty, improving social inclusion, and achieving sustainability on our planet. The course examines national and global policies in energy, biodiversity and conservation, health, sustainable business practices, food and nutritional security, social service delivery, and sound governance.

Strategic Communication for Sustainability: This course provides students the opportunity to develop vital professional skills in oral and written communication while preparing them to communicate clearly about science, natural resources policy, sustainability, and technology issues with demographically diverse and geographically dispersed audiences

Building Collaborative Communities: This course connects students with communities to address sustainability priorities and challenges through an engaged, collaborative effort. This course is intended to build understanding of the importance of partnerships in the field of sustainable development.