The program is interdisciplinary involving courses in biology, geography, economics, sociology, terrestrial and aquatic ecology, conservation biology and biodiversity, philosophy and ethics, wildlife and fisheries management, hydrology, math and computer science, policy and planning, globalization, indigenous perspectives, and sustainability. Attention is paid to different resource systems such as forests, agriculture/range, energy/minerals, oceans/lakes/rivers. The program has its foundation in the biological and social sciences, teaching direct applications in the lab and in the field with technologically advanced tools available to resource planners and managers, such as Geographic Information Systems, satellite image and aerial photo remote sensing technologies, computer modeling software, and quantitative statistical techniques.
The program not only provides a thorough understanding of natural ecosystems, but provides an appreciation for the political, legal and socioeconomic contexts which affect the design and outcomes of conservation and management strategies. The program emphasizes the development of oral and written communication skills, problem-solving skills, teamwork, and leadership. Students are introduced to research and data collection methods, study designs, and have opportunities for independent research.
This program is unique from most conservation biology or environmental science programs because students are constantly challenged to apply what they are learning. Lab sessions are often held outdoors to bring a hands-on reality to the classroom education. This program offers two specializations: the major in Science and Management and the major in Global Perspectives.
The highlight of the major in Global Perspectives is the international learning experience and related global Perspectives Capstone course. In the Capstone course, students apply their international knowledge of resource systems and assessment tools, consider supply and demand issues, governance and institutional capacity and develop and compare alternative resources management and policy scenarios that balance environmental, economic and social sustainability.