The undergraduate program in Natural Resources is designed to position students at the exciting intersection where conservation ecology and environmental biology meet environmental decision-making. The department offers both a major and a minor in the field. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences allows students to double major in Natural Resources and any other major within the college. Natural Resources majors have pursued double majors with Development Sociology, Applied Economics and Management, Communications, Plant Sciences, and Biology and Society.
The interdisciplinary major focuses on the fundamental knowledge and analytical tools required to conserve, restore, and manage the Earth’s biodiversity and ecosystem services in sustainable ways. The curriculum draws on relevant knowledge from biology, ecology, mathematics, sociology, economics, law, and ethics.
A large number of field courses provide direct experience working in forests, wetlands, streams, lakes, and several policy-making arenas. In the classroom, courses address pressing environmental issues such as global climate change, landscape transformation, endangered and invasive species, human alteration of biogeochemical cycles, “green” markets and other environmental strategies, environmental justice, bio-cultural and biological diversity, and international conservation.
The major is flexible, allowing students the opportunity to take advantage of the university's diverse course offerings and to customize course selections to their own strengths and interests within three distinct concentrations: Applied Ecology (AE); Resource Policy and Management (RPM); or Environmental Studies (EST).
The concentration in Applied Ecology provides students with advanced study of i) species and population biology and ii) ecosystem ecology as applied to the conservation or management of organisms and their habitats. Course work in the department emphasizes fish, wildlife, and plant populations living in aquatic, forest, and wetland habitats. AE students also take at least one course in resource policy and management. Electives include a broad list of courses offered in the department and in other departments (such as in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Crop and Soil Sciences, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and Plant Biology), including topics such as conservation biology, quantitative resource management, resource inventory and information management, biogeochemistry, and global ecology.
Resource Policy and Management
The concentration in Resource Policy and Management provides students with advanced study in the institutions and policies that humans apply to resource management. Course work in the department focuses on human dimensions, sociology, and ethics of resource policy and management. RPM students also take at least one course in species and populations, and one in ecosystems. Electives include a broad list of courses offered in the department and in other departments (such as in Development Sociology, Applied Economics and Management, City and Regional Planning, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Government), including topics such as environmental governance and environmental law.
The concentration in Environmental Studies is intended for those students who want a broad program of study regarding the interactions of humans and their environment. The concentration emphasizes the ability to think critically about those interactions. Each student, with help from their departmental advisor, designs a cohesive sequence of five upper-division courses in the social sciences, natural sciences, and/or humanities related to the environment. The sequence constitutes a theme that identifies a specific set of interactions between humans and their environment that the student wishes to pursue in depth. Some examples are i) legal and economic incentives for species conservation, and ii) human views of the environment as expressed in literature or history.
Some students focus on the biological and ecological aspects of the program while others choose a larger number of courses addressing the interactions of human society with the environment.
Individual Academic Advisors
Each student is assigned an academic advisor in their first semester whose role is to help students navigate selectively through the wide range of courses offered by the department, other departments in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and in other colleges within the University. The advisor also helps direct students to opportunities for internships, independent research, the research honors program, study abroad, and jobs working in the laboratories of department faculty or at the department’s field stations.