National Academies Press: OpenBook

National Capacity in Forestry Research (2002)

Chapter:4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science

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Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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4 Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science

Forests must accommodate a wide variety of uses and benefits. As a result, foresters are asked to protect and enhance biologic diversity, protect water quality in well-managed watersheds, provide habitat for game and nongame species, create recreational opportunities ranging from wilderness environments to developed campgrounds, and provide wood and non-commodity forest products. Long-standing issues, such as how to provide forest products in an economically efficient and environmentally sound manner, and many new issues—such as environmental justice, inequities in resource availability, habitat fragmentation, endangered species, and urbanization, have entered the public discourse. Both new and old issues often seem acutely complex, and their solutions are rarely straightforward.

The boundaries that define forestry are expanding rapidly to accommodate the vast array of benefits and values associated with the forest. Population viability analysis, ecologic services, landscape management, cumulative impacts, amenity-based development, recreation carrying capacity, adaptive management, conflict resolution, collaborative learning, and other subjects are being proposed as basic curriculum elements. Traditional sustained-yield approaches that focus on commodity production are giving way to comprehensive and integrated approaches that emphasize ecologic and social sustainability. The new approaches focus on maintaining and restoring ecosystem integrity and long-term productivity while guiding appropriate human uses of natural resources.

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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THE FUTURE OF FORESTRY EDUCATION

Given the expanding view of forest management, how do we educate the next generation of foresters? To be successful managers, forestry graduates must be broadly educated and possess a variety of skills, tools, and technologies in order to understand the ecologic and social processes affecting ecosystems (Sample et al., 1999; Bentley, 1999). Graduates must also have solid skills and fundamental knowledge in basic sciences. In response to comprehensive and integrated approaches to resource management, the challenge is to find the means by which focused education, interdisciplinary systems thinking, and communication skills can be developed and applied by forestry professionals.

The need for a focused education and interdisciplinary thinking might appear to be contradictory. Yet the challenge for academic institutions in educating the next generation of resource managers is to provide each student with a common set of skills that include oral and written communication, interpersonal skills, problem-solving, and critical thinking and with the ability to implement the skills in natural-resource management. In addition to the skills, there is a need for basic knowledge in a discipline that can be applied in a holistic context.

It has been recognized that there is a need to promote and achieve disciplinary integration and apply the resulting knowledge to complex social and biologic problems (see, for example, the article “The Employer's Perspective on New Hires” in the September 1999 issue of the Journal of Forestry). Progress toward those goals has been thwarted by discipline-focused faculty, a tradition of reductionism in conducting research, and fragmented curricula in many academic institutions. But integration can come from achieving both depth and breadth in an academic program that includes both teaching and research. One set of courses can ensure depth in a discipline, and another set can promote breadth of exposure and connections to other disciplines.

Creative approaches to disciplinary integration at the undergraduate level have been implemented and evaluated in several forestry programs, including those of the University of Vermont (Ginger et al., 1999) and Northern Arizona University (Fox et al., 1996). Those experiments in teaching and learning generally involve the study of natural resource issues and use core and capstone courses that blend the biologic and social sciences. Without question, integrating across disciplinary boundaries places additional burdens on instructors. Practical matters need to be resolved, such as defining content, coordinating schedules, and establishing teaching assignments (Ginger et al., 1999). More important, there needs to be an intellectual commitment to operating outside the comfort of one's discipline. Obviously, administrative support is critical to success (Fox et al., 1996). Finally, there are pedagogical issues. For example, social scientists are more apt to use discussion, debate, case studies, and team efforts in teaching, whereas biologic scientists have a tradition of using lectures to transfer information in the classroom (Ginger et al., 1999).

Many of the prerequisites for integrated teaching and learning also apply to integrated research. It seems logical to operate as a member of a diverse team of scientists to address multifaceted problems, but true integration is rarely achieved.

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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Reductionism remains the more common research approach, and most forest scientists believe that the greatest gains in knowledge come from a strong disciplinary focus. According to Ross Whaley, our failure to integrate might not be so much an inability to conduct interdisciplinary research as an inability to integrate and synthesize the results of our research (unpublished presentation provided during the National Research Council's workshop on National Capacity in Forestry Research). In other words, it is more a thinking problem than a doing problem (unpublished paper presented to the National Research Council's Workshop on National Capacity in Forestry Research, July 15, 1999, Washington, DC). As Whaley recognized, the “ability to integrate vast amounts of information from many disciplines and a broad array of viewpoints has not been adequately honed in their formal education or their apprenticeship. This is not easy. It takes a special kind of formal education that must be refined through experience.”

Successful implementation of a broader, more integrative approach to resource management necessitates higher levels of interaction between researchers and managers than has been the norm. The relevance of research information to resource problems and environmental issues needs to be clearly identified and communicated. Research information should continue to be subjected to peer review to ensure the quality of the research enterprise, but it should also be communicated in forms that are useful to resource managers, planners, and policymakers once it has passed the test of peer review. To judge from public reactions to land management, there is much room for improvement in communicating science to a broad audience.

The successful management of any complex system—biologic, social, or physical—requires first the knowledge of the fundamental concepts and laws that govern the operation of the system. Too much attention has been paid in forest science to the collection of data and facts; too little effort has been invested in developing the theoretic framework for the social and biologic sciences that are commonly applied to resource management. Without a framework, we are limited to an endless litany of empirical studies whose results have predictive value for a narrow range of conditions. Without an organizing structure or theory, information is merely a collection of observations and unrelated fragments of data. Without structure, it is difficult to learn from experience or to extrapolate into the future. A continuing challenge facing forest scientists (and those in other parts of the biologic and social sciences) is to develop an explanatory and predictive system of concepts, theories, and laws. Meeting that challenge is a major issue for forestry education.

Discussions about the need for a focused education in natural-resources management and for interdisciplinary systems thinking generally center on how to achieve an appropriate balance between breadth and depth in the curricula. There seem to be two competing needs—more opportunities to build interdisciplinary perspectives and a need to provide greater depth in some fields. Breadth is needed at both the knowledge level (e.g., a student of forest management understands something about social systems) and the process level (e.g., students understand problem-solving approaches). A challenge is to design opportunities for breadth-building without diminishing the capacity for building the depth needed for students to become successful professionals.

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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There are practical and sometimes legal limits to the number of credit-hours that can be required for a baccalaureate degree. Each course added to the curriculum should be evaluated relative to its contribution to the faculty's vision of an education necessary for a professional forester and to the stated mission of the school. The primary need is to identify a general educational and professional core of courses essential for student development and then supplement the courses with transdisciplinary, quantitative, and holistic educational experiences. The increased breadth of forestry education does not need to fragment forestry curricula.

TRENDS IN ENROLLMENT AND GRADUATION

Trends in forestry enrollment and degrees awarded provide empirical evidence about the implicit interests in professional employment and research needs. Table 4–1summarizes data on enrollment in and degrees awarded in forest and wood science programs from 1989 to 1998 (FAEIS 1999a, 1999b). Student enrollment and the number of degrees awarded at all levels have increased throughout the 1990s. Much of the enrollment gain was achieved by 1992–1993 for all degrees and peaked at that time for graduate enrollment, which has since stabilized. The number of degrees of all levels awarded has generally increased continually throughout the period, indicating an improving completion rate.

Baccalaureate enrollment in forest-science programs increased by 53 percent from 1989 to 1998; degrees granted increased by 61 percent. Master's and doctoral enrollments and degrees granted increased less during that period. Master's enrollment increased by 12 percent and degrees granted by 27 percent; doctoral enrollment increased by 5 percent and degrees granted by 30 percent. As of fall 1989, baccalaureate enrollment accounted for 73 percent of all the forest science students; by fall 1998, it accounted for 79 percent. Baccalaureate degrees granted also increased their share of total completions. In fall 1989, bachelor's degrees accounted for 68 percent of all forest science degrees granted; by fall 1998, they accounted for 73 percent.

Many forestry programs now include education and research beyond the traditional “forest science.” The Food and Agriculture Education Information System (FAEIS) collects similar data on natural resources, agricultural sciences, and other programs. Those data provide another perspective on the trends in natural resources education toward college degrees. Table 4–2 summarizes enrollment data by major program and degree level from fall 1993 to fall 1999 (FAEIS 1999a).

From fall 1993 to fall 1999, the number of students in natural resources programs was fairly stable. Doctoral programs realized a slight increase in enrollment, but other degrees had fewer students enrolled. Agricultural science programs realized marked increases in undergraduate enrollments in fall 1996 and then declined. Graduate enrollment in agricultural programs fluctuated but generally declined. Forest science accounted for about 8–12 percent of the reported enrollment in fall 1999.

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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Table 4–1. Enrollment and Degrees Awarded in Forest Science Programs, 1989–1998.

Number of Students

Degree

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

Enrollment

Bachelor's

4830

5416

5585

5983

6890

6839

7007

7660

7917

7369

Master's

1103

1058

1167

1365

1341

1267

1137

1248

1238

1236

Doctoral

715

693

714

722

792

741

674

744

720

749

Awarded

Bachelor's

956

929

850

1114

1116

1239

1242

1431

1431

1536

Master's

336

288

330

368

379

384

361

400

384

427

Doctoral

110

107

104

113

109

117

126

122

126

143

Source: Food and Agriculture Education Information System (FAEIS 1999a, 1999b).

Table 4–2. Enrollment in Forestry, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Programs by Program and Degree Level (NAPFSC/SAF Schools), 1993–1999.

Number of Students

Program

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999 (% of total)

Bachelor's:

Forest sciences

6890

6839

7007

7660

7917

7369

6650 (8.4)

Natural resources

17407

16279

16815

17692

17209

16370

15634 (19.7)

Agricultural science

42464

43619

46415

78209

54264

51565

51352 (64.5

Other

4840

5067

5744

5823

6610

5939

5922 (7.4)

Total

71601

71804

75981

109384

86000

81243

79558 (100.0)

Master's:

Forest sciences

1341

1267

1137

1248

1238

1236

1162 (12.0)

Natural resources

2715

2352

2557

2566

2481

2376

2339 (24.1)

Agricultural science

6295

6190

6210

6004

6527

5754

5802 (59.9)

Other

509

403

464

450

410

421

389 (4.0)

Total

10860

10212

10368

10268

10656

9787

9692 (100.0)

Doctoral:

Forest sciences

792

741

674

744

720

749

751 (9.3)

Natural Resources

1068

1008

1079

1168

1008

1133

1205 (15.0)

Agricultural science

6610

6501

6176

6063

6357

5897

5957 (74.0)

Other

95

79

128

136

139

121

134 (1.7)

Total

8565

8329

8057

8111

8224

7900

8047 (100.0)

Source: Food and Agriculture Education Information System (1999a).

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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Natural resources programs accounted for a larger share of the undergraduate and master's enrollment (20 percent and 24 percent, respectively) but only 15 percent of Ph.D. enrollment.

FORESTRY AS AN ACADEMIC SUBJECT

As reflected in the trends just described, forestry as an academic subject has evolved along two paths: undergraduate and graduate education. They are not mutually exclusive, but their evolutionary history is important for answering the question, What forestry curricula will prepare foresters to conduct and use research effectively in the coming century?

The study of forests (in the sense of scientific research and academic scholarship) is open to all disciplines, and most have had some influence in what we know about forests. In a more focused way, specialized researchers in many disciplines participate directly in forestry-research organizations. Many people who do not have a professional forestry degree (or another resource-management professional degree, such as in wildlife biology or landscape architecture) contribute directly to solving forest and forestry problems. Their recruitment to forestry is only a matter of curriculum insofar as exposure to forest and forestry research challenges during their education, particularly their post-graduate education, can attract them to forest subjects and institutions.

On the following pages, we examine the two major paths—undergraduate and graduate—of professional forestry education, discuss their major curricular trends, and try to match the trends with a vision of future research needs.

CURRICULUM AS A CONCEPT

The idea that the quality of an education is determined largely by careful faculty specification of subjects to be studied is old but not universal. In some important ways, the notion of curriculum is antithetical to the notion of a “liberal education”. In the purest form of the latter, a student's curiosity confronts an array of subjects, teaching styles, and possible degrees of specialization within broad subjects. Each student selects from that array to create a “curriculum” unique to his or her goals. In an important sense, this is the best curriculum possible if eagerness to acquire knowledge, freedom of inquiry, and development of the individual intellect are important educational values. Individual choice is approximated, to a greater or lesser degree, by most undergraduate liberal arts programs, in which breadth of knowledge, the ability to think independently, and intellectual maturity are important goals.

In both undergraduate and graduate professional programs, however, requirements for specific “professional skills”, the accreditation of professional-degree programs by professional societies, and in some cases external licensing requirements force (or are thought to force) a tighter external specification of the content of a course of study. The degree to which those external forces are actually important and the subjects

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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and teaching methods that should be used to respond to them have been subjected to intense debate among forestry educators and professionals in the United States for a century, and longer in some other places. The story continues to unfold, but trends are apparent.

In examining trends, it is important to remember that the central notion of curriculum is that if the specified subjects in the specified amounts are learned successfully, an effective professional education has been offered and received. A given curriculum is assumed to be a set of input specifications, like a recipe for a stew. Unlike the stew, however, the product is probably as much a result of other factors, inside and outside the formal educational experience, as it is of the curriculum. Many think, for example, that the intrinsic capability of the student is the major determining factor in professional success (in Iowa it is called the “Grinnell effect”; that is, if you let only smart ones in, you usually let only smart ones out). Others believe that exposure to people and situations that inspire students and cause them to think is more important for a high-quality professional education than curricular specifications. Still others believe that the emphasis should be on the overall quality and subject mix of the whole faculty; if students are allowed to choose from an array of subjects and teachers that are all important, relevant, and professionally useful, there is no need for further specification. These important disagreements probably mean that there will never be a single, “received” forestry curriculum. Given the diversity of forests and people's views and values related to them, that is probably good.

MODELS FOR FORESTRY EDUCATION

As forestry education began in earnest in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, two models were applied virtually from the outset. One regarded forestry as a graduate professional subject similar to law and medicine, the other regarded forestry as an undergraduate pursuit more akin to the existing models for engineering and agriculture. The second, not surprisingly, took root most vigorously in the land-grant colleges, which by the beginning of the 20th century had substantial experience with engineering and agricultural curricula.

Current enrollment data indicate that the land-grant-college professional-school model has become dominant for both undergraduate and graduate programs. Land-grant colleges and other state-assisted forestry schools now educate all the undergraduate foresters in programs accredited by the Society of American Foresters, SAF (7419 in fall 1998). They also enroll 96 percent of the master's students and 99 percent of the doctoral students in the forest sciences (FAEIS 1999a). In fact, Yale University was the only private university even reporting any graduate students in forest sciences in the FAEIS system—at 50 master's and 8 doctoral students.

Yale was the original home of the graduate model, and later it emerged at other non-land-grant institutions, such as Harvard, Duke, and the University of Michigan. Yale, Harvard, Duke, and Michigan, relatively early in the evolution of U.S. forestry, began to offer professional doctorates (the doctor of forestry, or DF, degree). Despite the small proportion of the enrollment at these private or graduate-only educational

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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institutions, these institutions continue to serve as opinion leaders on directions for forest science. Indeed, their expansion beyond narrow forestry curricula was emulated by, or at least occurred in parallel with, that at many other institutions.

The evolution of both undergraduate and graduate models has been similar in many respects. From an early emphasis on the biologic and physical aspects of forests, the social sciences (first economics and then the others) have slowly found a place in the curriculum. Forestry departments and schools were ambivalent about the emergence of modern ecology for a long time. Silviculture and ecology, like silviculture and economics, were for a long time, and to some degree still are, uneasy academic partners.

There has been a similar broad agreement between the models on what subjects were important to study. The initial emphasis on trees and wood as the major components of forests, from both biologic and economic points of view, has continually been modified by increased emphasis on other forest components and disciplines related to them. Both models accepted relatively uncritically a utilitarian view of forests; that is, forests are important because of what they can do for people.

But the differences between the models are profound and will probably determine the future of forestry education. The “graduate professional” model has as a basic tenet that a wide variety of undergraduate programs are suitable as a starting point for a forestry education but also that an undergraduate course of study is necessary before beginning a forestry education. The “undergraduate professional” model says that a forestry professional can be created through four years or more of relatively highly specified study at the undergraduate level strengthened with basic liberal arts components meeting university core education requirements and that further formal study, although probably beneficial, is not necessary. The undergraduate model has much to recommend it. It is less expensive in time and money for the student. There are benefits to society at large: the United States has many forests, and large numbers of foresters are needed to manage them; the efficiency of the undergraduate curriculum; and the vast capacity of (particularly) land-grant universities in supplying the numbers needed. The graduate model, in contrast, offers more liberal breadth and scientific depth. It requires a higher caliber student, as demonstrated by the requirements for excellent undergraduate degree grade point averages and good Graduate Record Examination scores to enter a graduate degree program.

Numerically, undergraduate programs dominate, as indicated in Table 4–1. In fact, their share of professional forest science enrollment has actually increased over the last decade. The focus of the undergraduate forestry programs has probably diverged from traditional land management that was typical of forestry programs. All retain the core biology, measurement, management, and policy courses, as required by the SAF (1998) accreditation procedures. But more offer specialization, such as in business, forestry operations, urban forestry, or environmental science (e.g., Bentley, 1999). A greater share of graduates with B.S. degrees are obtaining employment in wood procurement and forestry consulting in the South, and environmental consulting and planning elsewhere. Employment in land management positions has actually declined at the B.S. level (Cubbage et al., 1999). These trends are probably duplicated at the graduate level.

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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Broad Trends in Forestry Education

Despite the relative increase in undergraduate professional education and its increasing bifurcation along production or environment lines, graduate education remains a crucial component of educating the next generation of resource managers and forest scientists. The importance of natural-resources and environmental programs is obvious, in that they have almost twice the enrollment of forest science programs. Many distinguished former forestry schools or colleges have become natural-resources or environmental-science colleges. In many places, the numerically dominant course of study in “forestry” schools is no longer forestry, but rather a broader curriculum called “natural resources” or “environmental studies”. The number of these programs has grown considerably in forestry schools and in other units of universities, such as colleges of arts and sciences. In some cases, they undoubtedly compete for students that formerly would have enrolled in forestry and other professional curricula.

Increasingly, predictions of or calls for a graduate degree as the first professional degree are heard from academic and professional sources (Gordon 1984, Wallinger 1991). The parallel with other graduate professions, such as law, medicine, and business is increasingly drawn. A graduate degree has become almost necessary to advance to higher positions in many organizations that employ foresters. It appears that the broad and broadening knowledge that forestry requires is leading forestry education to a model in which broad undergraduate education, both liberal and professional, is followed by a graduate education that combines elements of science, business, and traditional forestry subjects. This graduate education often leads to a master's degree (master of forestry or equivalent), but there are calls for it to be a doctoral degree (Wallinger, 1991). Whether such predictions will eventually be borne out by educational practice is unknown, but many other issues and trends in forestry education remain important.

Research capacity and education at the graduate level are still closely related to trends and needs in the undergraduate forestry curriculum. At the very least, undergraduate enrollment and teaching appointments tend to drive the nature of the faculty appointed with state funds. Many of the students who enter forestry graduate programs were forestry undergraduate students. Thus, undergraduate education should be as broad as necessary to cover forest science well and as deep as possible to provide insights about basic principles and skills. While curricula continue to broaden from “forestry” to “natural resources,” traditional disciplines (e.g., botany, zoology, physics, etc.) and departments have an essential place at the undergraduate and graduate levels in educating prospective forest scientists.

An ad hoc SAF committee (SAF 2000) considered the relevance of SAF accreditation and the form it should take. The merits of a broad general education, balance and depth in professional requirements, and the need to provide instruction in more disciplines while states are reducing the number of credit hours required for graduation are among the issues faced by forestry programs. Professional forestry courses at the graduate level are particularly important for research degrees. Those and many other issues could engender a book by themselves, and they reflect the larger debates about what constitutes forestry and how it should be taught. We will simply draw on the preceding discussion to make recommendations about research implications.

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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WHAT ABOUT RESEARCH?

What should a research organization—such as the research branch of the USDA Forest Service, the largest forestry-research organization in the United States—think and do about the broad trends described above? There are several very positive potential outcomes for research organizations:

  • Undergraduate students should be provided with a broad education in the traditional fields of forest science, but opportunities for specialization or diversification should be encouraged for later graduate education. Similarly, regional differences and employment needs should be recognized.
  • Insofar as graduate education produces greater exposure to research (and it usually does) research organizations will benefit in two ways: practitioners or managers will understand better and be more receptive to research results and research cultural values, and more people will be attracted to careers in research.
  • One characteristic of forestry schools has been a reluctance to teach broadly in their university because of the needs of their own undergraduate majors. If less emphasis is put on undergraduate majors, teaching capacity might be freed to teach broadly, and this in turn might result in the attraction of more people and a greater array of disciplines to forestry and forestry research.
  • As forestry becomes more complex, so does forestry research. The greater breadth of experience of the graduate student should be helpful in confronting this complexity creatively.

There also are issues of concern:

  • Will a greater emphasis on breadth and integration decrease the supply of highly specialized researchers? Will fewer entomologists or molecular biologists be available to forestry?
  • Many—including many in government and private forestry organizations— think that adaptive management (i.e., an integrated, multidisciplinary approach for confronting uncertainty in natural resources issues) will greatly increase in importance, but there is little evidence that this is an effectively taught curriculum element. How can this topic be effectively included in forestry education?
  • Will an undergraduate trend toward broader curricula lead many of the ablest students away from forestry organizations?
  • Will forestry schools provide the incentives and environment to produce sufficient gender and racial diversity for forestry-research organizations in the next century?
Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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  • Is basic science adequately represented in forestry schools and curricula in an increasingly results-focused era and society? Will the foresters of tomorrow be able to understand the value of basic knowledge, or will they regard its production as someone else's business?

Are important disciplines being lost because of “market” trends? Questions about forest protection (such as the results of long suppression of fire in the West and the growing importance of “invasive alien species”, such as the longhorn beetle) seem to be increasing, but the supplies of entomologists, pathologists, and fire scientists seem to be stable or decreasing.

WHAT ABOUT CURRICULA?

No matter which broad educational model is followed, some elements must be included in educational programs. To achieve a balance between depth and breadth and to meet the challenge of producing scientists and those who can effectively use science, the intellectual goals for educating forestry students in both content and process should include many of the following elements:

  • Mastery of research methods (problem definition, research design, analytic tools, problem solving) in areas of interest to the student
  • Sufficient breadth of knowledge and skills necessary for working with diverse groups both within and outside the student's field of study
  • Competency in communicating with diverse audiences
  • Specialized knowledge that provides an in-depth understanding of concepts, processes, and interactions within a scientific discipline
  • Integrative thinking that promotes a broader understanding about the application of specialized knowledge

Although specialization is unavoidable, indeed desirable, education should still lead to the capacity for broadly informed judgment, and this capacity requires an education that is both broad and basic. By its very nature, natural-resources management is a multi-disciplinary subject requiring the integration of the biologic and social sciences. A goal common to schools of natural resources is to generate knowledge through research and teaching and to help to apply it to meet the full range of human needs on a sustainable basis. That goal is best accomplished through joining disciplines and approaches. Integrating fields of knowledge in natural-resources curricula remains an important challenge for most schools of forestry and natural resources.

One area that might be considered is the preparation of professionals to transmit scientific information to managerial audiences. In land-grant colleges, these professionals would be extension staff. Such programs as the master's program at Oregon State University that specifically targets extension and other educational outreach

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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are few, but they provide an important curricular path if forestry science is to inform management effectively.

With those ideas and trends as background, one might ask, How are we doing in developing capacity for research in forestry? Are we producing the diverse cadre of scientists necessary to meet the needs of a changing forestry profession?

ADEQUACY AND CAPACITY OF UNIVERSITY PROGRAMS TO MEET NEAR-FUTURE NEEDS

We know that university programs are the primary source of new forestry scientists. Doctoral programs produce scientists that become employed in universities, government research organizations, and the private sector. Do they have the capacity to supply new scientists to meet near-future needs for forestry-research organizations? Are they likely to be able to graduate scientists that will enhance the gender, racial, and ethnic diversity of research organizations?

Disciplinary Breadth of Forestry Education

A huge number of disciplines are involved in forestry, and scientific capability is needed in all of them. Over the last couple of decades, many new fields of inquiry have emerged and some traditional fields have declined in importance. The forestry and natural-resources schools have recognized the changes, and the mix of faculty expertise has changed. Forest and range ecology, recreation and tourism, remote sensing and spatial analysis, and natural-resources social sciences have all experienced substantial increases in capability. Forest entomology and pathology have undergone change to focus on integrated forest protection, and forest genetics has become part of the forest-biotechnology arena.

In sum, it is difficult to identify any field that is not represented in the capability of forestry and natural resources schools collectively, but it is clear that some schools emphasize some programs, and other schools emphasize others. Some fields that are represented in only a few schools are fire ecology and behavior, pulp and paper science, wilderness management, forest soils, tropical forestry, forest biotechnology, forest products marketing, and forest engineering and harvesting. New scientists can be produced in those fields, but there are few faculty members to produce them.

In addition to forestry and natural-resources schools around the country, scientists can be produced by many other programs such as botany, biology, entomology, pathology, soils, economics, sociology, and political science. However, those programs usually have a broader focus than forestry and natural resources, so there might be only one or two faculty in them on a campus who are interested in forestry and natural resources; their contribution to the development of forestry and natural-resource scientists would be small. Building bridges with those other programs to increase the probability of developing forest scientists is important.

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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Tables 4–1 and 4–2 summarized enrollment and graduation trends for forestry programs and enrollment for broader natural-resources and agriculture programs. Table 4–3summarizes university forest science program enrollment from fall 1993 to fall 1999 (FAEIS, 1999a). These data should help to inform discussions of university capacity. The forest science categories are fairly broad, but some observations seem worthwhile. At the doctoral level, probably the most interesting finding is the relative stability in the number of students enrolled over the last five years in each of the 15 identified categories. General forestry had the largest enrollments, about 119 to 183 students nationally; forest management had the second largest enrollment, at 141 to 183; forest biology had the third largest enrollment with 128 to 153; forest sciences had 79 to 145; forest mensuration, 17 to 23; urban forestry, 2 to 5; and wood science, 53 to 71. Most other disciplines had fewer than 10 doctoral students. The variation in the number of master's students was greater, with sustained increases in the number of students in forest-products technology, forest biology, and urban forestry. Sustained enrollment decreases occurred in forest engineering and forest management.

The forestry and natural-resource schools are quite limited in their capacity for production of forestry doctorates beyond these levels. The FAEIS statistics for fall 1999 indicate that only 12 forestry graduate programs had 20 or more doctoral students enrolled, and the students in these 12 schools made up 69 percent of the 764 Ph.D. students enrolled in forest sciences nationally. The 12 schools are well distributed geographically with three in the Northeast, three in the North Central U.S., two in the South, and four in the West (FAEIS, 2000).

If one considers the forestry and natural-resources doctoral programs combined, over twice as many (29) schools enrolled at least 30 forestry/natural resource Ph.D. students in fall 1999. The students in these 29 schools comprise 90 percent of the 2256 forestry and natural resource Ph.D. students enrolled nationally. Six of these schools are in the Northeastern, six in the North Central, eight in the Southern, and nine in the Western regions (FAEIS, 2000).

Numbers of Scientists

Ability to produce doctorates in the necessary fields depends on several factors, including the disciplinary and integrative orientation of faculty; the stage of faculty in their own careers; the supporting programs, course work, and faculty at individual universities; the numbers of qualified students interested in particular fields, and the assistantship and research support available ( Box 4–1). Some students who are conducting large research projects as part of their degree program are guaranteed complete support though their advisors while other students may have guaranteed support for tuition and stipend, but must independently seek support for their research. The latter is typically true if the student is conducting research that is outside their advisor's research program. With the broadening of the field of forestry, there has been a growing number of fellowships available to students in forestry. However, there is also a growing

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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Table 4–3. Enrollment in Forest Science Programs by Academic Specialization (NAPFSC/SAF Schools), 1993–1999.

Number of Students

Specialization and Degree

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

Forestry, General

Bachelor's

3098

2956

3086

3467

3349

2882

2462

Master's

360

322

235

285

342

379

354

Doctoral

183

157

119

163

161

181

170

Forest Harvesting and Production

Bachelor's

0

5

8

76

94

70

50

Master's

6

0

0

4

5

5

3

Doctoral

3

0

4

5

5

3

4

Forest Products Technology

Bachelor's

55

60

67

116

155

115

147

Master's

20

6

8

14

21

18

17

Doctoral

53

9

3

6

17

6

4

Timber Harvesting

Bachelor's

7

8

9

13

4

0

0

Master's

3

0

0

7

4

2

0

Doctoral

1

0

2

0

0

0

0

Forest Sciences

Bachelor's

377

396

424

421

452

456

433

Master's

197

201

208

207

182

167

206

Doctoral

87

95

90

79

90

109

145

Forest Biology

Bachelor's

325

359

396

456

461

477

464

Master's

152

155

197

228

225

201

174

Doctoral

128

139

142

151

153

143

128

Forest Engineering

Bachelor's

188

198

194

218

264

292

216

Master's

72

21

14

11

8

8

15

Doctoral

37

16

11

8

8

7

10

Forest Hydrology

Bachelor's

0

0

10

15

22

20

18

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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Table 4–3. Enrollment in Forest Science Programs by Academic Specialization (NAPFSC/SAF Schools), 1993–1999. (continued)

Number of Students

Specialization and Degree

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

Master's

47

32

43

30

24

35

27

Doctoral

11

11

12

7

6

9

5

Forest Management

Bachelor's

1612

1554

1529

1577

1778

1783

1752

Master's

286

287

264

282

258

206

185

Doctoral

141

147

161

183

146

147

151

Forest Mensuration

Bachelor's

0

0

9

2

3

0

0

Master's

39

22

13

13

19

26

32

Doctoral

21

17

23

21

17

18

20

Urban Forestry

Bachelor's

88

111

123

124

129

169

169

Master's

13

24

28

27

23

32

30

Doctoral

5

4

4

2

5

3

4

Wood Science

Bachelor's

278

232

260

351

335

334

281

Master's

71

64

70

85

70

76

64

Doctoral

71

58

53

56

71

58

53

Pulp and Paper Technology

Bachelor's

607

634

585

606

592

581

543

Master's

10

10

9

11

14

15

11

Doctoral

7

8

12

18

7

12

9

Forest Soils

Bachelor's

0

0

2

8

0

4

5

Master's

11

6

4

8

14

12

15

Doctoral

3

0

3

5

4

3

4

Forest Sciences, Other

Bachelor's

54

104

97

116

132

158

110

Master's

20

21

23

36

37

38

29

Doctoral

32

36

28

32

40

42

44

Source: Food and Agriculture Education Information System (FAEIS 1999a).

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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number of students competing for the grants. These include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) STAR (Science to Achieve Results) Fellowships, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Global Climate Change Fellowships, and the Morris K.Udall Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental Policy Foundation Fellowships, among others. Many graduate students spend a great deal of time securing funding for research.

The statistics show that the production of doctorates is fairly stable, but the distribution over fields is uneven. For example, over the three-year period 1996 to 1998, the production of doctorates nationally was 206, 232, and 248 in natural-resource fields and 130, 116, and 143 in the forest sciences (FAEIS; 1997b, 1998b, and 1999b, 2000 respectively). In the natural-resource fields, environmental studies and sciences, wildlife, and renewable natural resources are consistently the fields with highest production of doctorates. In the forest sciences group, general forestry, forest management, and forest biology consistently have the most graduates. Timber harvesting, forest harvesting and production, forest engineering, forest hydrology, forest soils, forest mensuration, and urban forestry have had few or no graduates. Some graduates with expertise in the fields in which there were few or no recorded graduates probably are in the general forestry and forest management categories (forest soils and mensuration might be good examples), but the numbers of such graduates are probably small.

The number of doctoral students in the nation's forestry and natural resource schools generally mirrors the graduation statistics. For the 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 academic years the fall enrollments were: 1434, 1289, 1390, and 1492 doctoral students in natural resource programs, respectively, and 736, 730, 741, and 764 in forest science programs, respectively (FAEIS, 2000). The natural-resource fields with the largest numbers of students were wildlife and environmental studies and sciences. The forest science categories with the largest numbers of students were general forestry and forest management. The categories with consistently few or no students were timber harvesting, forest harvesting and production, urban forestry, and forest soils.

Box 4–1 Graduate Student Support

Graduate student support varies across institutions (National Research Council, 1995). There are a variety of mechanisms that are used by graduate students to finance their education. Many students pay for programs with financial aid, such as federal loans. Other sources of funding include assistantships, such as teaching and research assistantships. These assistantships are sometimes part of financial packages provided to students or are pursued by the students independently. Some students seek other forms of outside employment. Many well-established forestry schools have endowed fellowships, scholarships and grants that are given to students based on merit and/or type of research project. A large percentage of these fellowships and grants provide funding for research, including equipment and supplies, but not for stipend or tuition reimbursement. Typically doctoral students receive more guaranteed funding upon acceptance into the program than do master's students.

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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Diversity of Scientists

The gender distribution of doctorates and doctoral students has moved toward representing the general population, but minority group participation in education leading to forestry or natural resource science careers has made little progress over the last three academic years.

Table 4–4 summarizes statistics about fall 1999 forest-science enrollment by gender, ethnicity, and citizenship (FAEIS, 2000). There were 764 doctoral students enrolled, 69.6 percent male and 30.4 female. Of the doctoral students, about 60 percent were U.S. Caucasians; 7 percent U.S. minority-group members; and 33 percent foreign nationals. Of the master's students about 82 percent U.S. Caucasians; 8 percent U.S. minority-group members; and 10 percent foreign natio nals. Undergraduate students were overwhelmingly U.S. Caucasians (92 percent). The percentage of women was highest at the master's level (37 percent).

In 1996, 1997, and 1998, respectively, women in nat ural-resource programs earned 59, 67, and 82 (29, 29, and 33 percent), and in forest-science programs 34, 20, 30 (26, 17, and 21 percent) of the doctorates (FAEIS; 1997b, 1998b, and 1999b, respectively). These figures do not reflect the proportion of women in the population, or even in universities, but they do reflect a major change from only a few years ago, when very few women studied for doctorates in natural resources and forestry.

Table 4–4. Forest Sciences Enrollment Statistics by Gender, Ethnicity, and Citizenship, fall 1999.

Bachelor's

Master's

Doctoral

Characteristics

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

Gender

Male

5411

77.8

730

62.3

532

69.6

Female

1544

22.2

442

37.7

232

30.4

Race

Caucasian

6420

92.3

964

82.3

458

59.9

Minority

503

7.2

92

7.8

54

7.1

African American

120

1.7

12

1.0

8

1.0

Asian

82

1.2

26

3.2

25

3.3

Hispanic

102

1.5

24

2.0

12

1.6

Native American

84

1.2

10

0.9

2

0.3

Unspecified

115

1.7

20

1.7

7

0.9

Foreign

32

0.5

116

9.9

252

33.0

Total

6955

1172

764

Source: Food and Agriculture Education Information System (FAEIS 2000).

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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Enrollment figures suggest that the proportion of female doctoral graduates will increase. For the same 3 years noted above, enrollments of women in natural-resource fields were 483, 485, and 524 (34, 35, and 37 percent); in forest-science fields, the comparable enrollments were 191, 199, and 220 (26, 28, and 29 percent) (FAEIS; 1997a, 1998a, and 1999a, respectively).

Minority-group participation was considerably lower over the same three-year period with 12, 11, and 21 (6, 5, and 8 percent) natural-resources program graduates and 20, 14, and 10 (15, 12, and 7 percent) forest-science program graduates being members of identified minority groups. The number and proportion of minority group students enrolled in programs suggest improvement for natural-resource programs (114, 117, and 128; 8, 9, and 9 percent), but not for forest-science programs (73, 77, and 60; 10, 11, and 8 percent) (FAEIS; 1997b, 1998b, and 1999b, respectively).

In the statistics for both women and minority groups, it is clear that distribution across the various natural-resources and forest-science categories is highly skewed. Women graduates were most heavily represented in wildlife, environmental science and studies, and general forestry, and they were generally scarce in forest engineering, wood and paper products, forest soils, and mensuration and biometrics. Women students were most heavily represented in natural-resource conservation, environmental science and studies, wildlife, forest biology, and general forestry; and there were none in doctoral programs in harvesting and engineering or in hydrology. Minority group doctoral graduates were absent in most categories; the largest numbers were in forest management and environmental science and studies. Minority group students were represented best in natural-resource conservation, forest management, wildlife, and general forestry, but they were not represented at all in harvesting and engineering, forest hydrology, pulp and paper, and forest soils.

The statistics suggest an increasing proportion of women doctoral graduates entering the scientific workforce and a relatively static, and quite low, proportion of minority group graduates.

Future Demand for Scientists

Employment opportunities for scientists, engineers, and related specialists in agriculture, life science, and natural resources were summarized by Goecker, Gilmore, and Whatley (1999). The total U.S. employment of foresters and conservation scientists in 1996 was 37,000. The estimate of 43,000 needed in the year 2006 constitutes a 16 percent increase. Although many of these scientists might not seek work in research-specific fields, the increase in opportunity and demand for scientists reflects a substantial future demand for research scientists in forestry and natural resources. Currently, the demand for scientific professionals that support important federal missions has outstripped supply; it is imperative that scientists supplied by post-secondary education include all ethnic and gender groups at increasing rates if a strong science and technology workforce is to be ensured (National Science and Technology Council, 2000). Academic institutions will be challenged to educate these scientists to meet the demands, in terms of knowledge, number, and diversity.

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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INTERDISCIPLINARY AND INTEGRATIVE CAPABILITIES

The needs for integrative skills and interdisciplinary behavior in forestry and natural-resource science have been expressed in reviews that have been prepared over the last decade; the most prominent reviews are Forestry Research: A Mandate for Change (NRC, 1990) and Sustaining the People's Lands (Committee of Scientists, 1999). Meeting the challenges will probably require some components of individual doctoral curricula different from those traditionally considered. Multidisciplinary seminars, courses, and research and policy projects all might be useful. In addition, opportunities to interact substantively with doctoral students in other programs outside the normal seminar and classroom setting might be necessary ( Box 4–2).

Opportunities exist for exposure to and thinking about integrative and multidisciplinary topics emerging in several universities, and the experiences that they offer might be particularly helpful. For example, multidisciplinary teams of graduate students and professors are working on projects to deal with issues. In other cases, seminars and courses are being taught by looking at important issues from a variety of perspectives in the humanities, and the social, managerial, and natural sciences. To the extent that these kinds of experiences are required of doctoral students, integrative and interdisciplinary awareness and ability might increase.

Institutional Arrangements

Several examples of successful federal programs represent innovative approaches to education and research and foster collaboration and diversification (Boxes 4–3, 4–4). These programs serve as examples of programs that could be implemented by USDA to improve disciplinary and multidisciplinary forestry education and research.

Box 4–2 The Corporate Environmental Management Program (CEMP) at theUniversity of Michigan: An Example of Creative Partnerships within the University and between Business and the University

The Corporate Environmental Management Program (CEMP) is a joint-degree, three-year program between the Business School and the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan. CEMP students earn Master of Business Administration and Master of Science degrees. The program equips leaders, executives, and managers—regardless of whether they work in the private or public sector—with the skills and knowledge necessary to create environmentally and economically sustainable organizations.

In this program, students become well versed in both management methods and environmental sciences. In addition to classwork, the program includes executive education, summer internships, research projects, seminars by visiting practitioners, conferences on important environmental issues, and a lecture series on environmental management. Students in the program are supported in part by Weyerhaeuser Student Fellowships and General Motors Environmental Excellence Awards.

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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One example of such a success is the National Science Foundation (NSF) established Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network. The LTER Network was started in 1980 to support research on long-term ecological phenomena in the United States and has been extremely successful in its effort to facilitate collaboration among researchers. Over 1200 scientists and students investigating ecological processes over long temporal and broad spatial scales conduct research at LTER sites. Researchers are often associated with universities, but research teams also include members from the USDA Forest Service and other federal agencies. The LTER Network provides over 2000 ecological datasets available from LTER sites over the internet. The sites are models for how ecological research on forests can be conducted in a collaborative manner to improve understanding of ecological phenomenon ( Box 4–4).

Box 4–3 National Science Foundation's (NSF) Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) Program

To meet the need for a cadre of broadly prepared Ph.D.s with multidisciplinary backgrounds and the technical, professional, and personal skills essential to addressing the varied career demands of the future, NSF created an agency-wide, multidisciplinary, graduate training program. The goal of the IGERT Program is to enable the development of innovative, research-based, graduate education and training activities that will produce a diverse group of new scientists and engineers well prepared for a broad spectrum of career opportunities. Supported projects must be based upon a multidisciplinary research theme and organized around a diverse group of investigators from U.S. Ph.D.-granting institutions with appropriate research and teaching interests and expertise.

All IGERT projects are expected to incorporate the following features:

  • Vision, including goals and objectives, underlying an innovative program of graduate student training;
  • Comprehensive multidisciplinary research theme, appropriate for doctoral-level research, to serve as the foundation for training activities;
  • Training activities based on the integration of the multidisciplinary research theme with innovative educational opportunities;
  • Training environment that exposes students to state-of-the-art research instrumentation and/or methodologies;
  • Formal administrative plan and organizational structure that ensure the effective management of the requested resources to achieve the goals of the project;
  • Institutional strategy and operational plan for student recruitment, with special consideration to members of groups underrepresented in science and engineering, i.e., women, racial and ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities, to ensure preparation of a diverse science and engineering workforce;
  • Well-defined strategy for assessment of project performance.

In the two-stage IGERT competition, applicants first submit a preliminary proposal (preproposal) that outlines the planned IGERT activity; in the second stage, invited applicants submit a formal proposal. Invitations to submit a formal proposal are extended on the basis of merit review of the preproposals; only invited formal proposals are accepted.

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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Box 4–4 NSF's Luquillo Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) —An Example of Forestry Research Conducted through a Creative Partnership between Universities and Federal Research Agencies

The Luquillo Experimental Forest in the subtropical wet forests of Puerto Rico was established in 1989. There are presently about 40 scientific researchers working at this LTER site. Researchers working in the Luquillo LTER are affiliated with about 20 universities across the U.S., non-profit and private research organizations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and the USDA Forest Service's Forest Product Laboratory, Caribbean National Forest, and the International Institute of Tropical Forestry. Researchers working at this site have produced over 450 peer-reviewed articles over the last 10 years with the large majority resulting from collaborative projects.

Shortly after this LTER was established, Hurricane Hugo passed over the island. Since that time, the researchers there have been studying the effects of disturbance on the structure and functioning of the system. The variety of expertise among the researchers who work at the site has permitted successful studies of how disturbance affects components of the communities and ecosystems in the study forest. For example, the Hurricane Recovery Plot, a 16-ha study area at El Verde Research Area, was established shortly after the hurricane passed, to monitor changes in vegetation composition. Other researchers have monitored changes in amphibian, lizard, shrimp, and snail populations as well as changes in plant productivity, leaf litter decomposition rates, and other ecosystem processes. The research resulting from the Luquillo LTER site has been effective in changing thinking about the role of disturbance in systems and has helped ecologists understand how integral disturbance can be community and ecosystem dynamics.

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Our discussion of the many facets of professional forestry education leads to several conclusions and recommendations about what might be done, and what might be done better, to enhance of our forestry-research capacity.

Recommendation 4–1

University programs should assume a renewed commitment to the fundamental areas of scholarship and research related to forest sciences that have diminished in recent years, and should adopt an enhanced, broad, integrative, and interdisciplinary programmatic approach to curricula at the graduate level.

Basic fields—including field biology, population genetics, plant systematics, and plant taxonomy—are fundamental to understanding any biologic system. All too often,

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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faculty, support staff, and their facilities in such fundamental fields as genetics, physiology, pathology, and entomology have been allowed to decline in universities and natural resource agencies. The intellectual capital in many of these fundamental fields is dangerously low, and this lack of capacity will affect the nation's ability to implement new programs of research and development.

We need to consider developing curricula that include more mixing of students from various disciplines through seminars, capstone courses and experiences, and the use of multidisciplinary teams in teaching. In the future, teams of scientists from multiple disciplines will carry out much of forestry research, and this requires team behavior. The primary implementation problem is to capture enough time in already crowded curricula and teaching schedules for “mixing” activities. If school-wide or department-wide cores can be designated to include these activities for all students, with specialties viewed as additions to the common core, the “room” problem is solved by reducing the time allocated to specialization.

At the same time, all students need to be introduced to the methods and processes of science. Multidisciplinary teams work best if all members have a strong foundation in science. Thus, “research methods” classes cutting across disciplines should introduce students in various disciplines to specific approaches to science and should enhance disciplinary “cross pollination” among students. Implementation here requires “only” the addition of a course designed for all specialties. The usual research methods course focuses on the preparation of written study plans. This can double as doctoral dissertation or master's thesis prospectuses, or they can be research- grant applications.

The body of skills developed in scientific education would not be complete without enhancing communication skills as a core professional attribute for doctoral students. The “mixing” activities mentioned above help students to improve their communication skills by requiring them to explain, in a reduced-jargon environment, what they are doing and why they are doing it. In addition, specific communication courses might be offered for graduate and research students. Often, these can be integrated with, or parallel to, research methods courses. All courses should stress communication that allows spanning disciplines in writing and speech.

Students need to be exposed to a formal “systems” approach that can be useful in organizing graduate curricula and research. In addition to the offering of formal systems courses, such as ecology, “systems thinking” should be embodied in teaching and learning through the use of examples in which the description and integration of systems components are demonstrated. The systems approach can be enhanced if we ensure that all future researchers have a core of science method, a specialization in which they have competent depth, and an appreciation of a wide array of other disciplines, including enough of their specialized languages to communicate effectively with people working in them. Thus, breadth and depth should be considered compatible in graduate programs. That principle suggests three universal curricular components: (1) core knowledge of science and its processes; (2) a specialization that confers complete currency in a field; and (3) experience through courses and other interactions that confers an awareness level of competence in several fields of natural-resources research.

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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Success in meeting those needs can be reduced by increased faculty specialization and intensified competition in subfields for money and recognition. Managers of academic programs must be aware of the time and resources necessary to support synthesis and cooperative efforts by faculty and students. Students must be presented with observable evidence that a core knowledge of science and work among disciplines “pays off” and that these must be added to, rather than replace, a specialty. Students will do this only in so far as their role models on the faculty are seen to pursue this course successfully and that will likely require retraining many faculty members.

Recommendation 4–2

Universities should develop joint programming in geographic regions to ensure a “critical mass” of faculty and mentoring expertise in fields where expertise might be dispersed among the universities.

There are a wide variety of subfields in forestry and natural resources, and few institutions can produce doctoral graduates in many subfields. Regional cooperation might be viewed as a way to expand capacity by pooling resources in important areas. The building of regional coalitions among universities for the purpose of graduate education could enhance the education of students and lead to cost-effective expansion of the capacity to develop forest and natural-resource scientists.

Universities, government, industry, and private groups should work toward innovative and creative partnerships to a much greater extent than in the past to ensure that the spectrum of forestry education, research, and development interests is covered ( Box 4–2). Each organization should play a unique role. The unique opportunities offered by each research entity should be better identified, and mechanisms for coordinating across institutional niches should be better developed. Furthermore, each institution, or consortium of institutions, should concentrate its research capital in specific (and perhaps limited) fields of forestry research where it operates best or has some recognized institutional advantage. One of the ways to increase cooperation is to bring federal, state, and private sector scientists into the academic fabric where needed to augment the expertise of university faculty in preparing future scientists. Collaboration of non-university scientists in the academic fabric could expand the critical mass of scientists and educators preparing future scientists.

Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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Suggested Citation:"4. Preparing Forestry Scientists and Users of Forestry Science." National Research Council. 2002. National Capacity in Forestry Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10384.
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Next: 5. Capacity of Forestry-Research Organizations to Meet Future Research Needs »
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Forests are major components of the earth's natural resources and they are increasingly critical to the welfare of the U.S. economy, environment, and population. Desires to improve forest management and productivity, preserve biodiversity, maintain ecologic integrity, and provide societal services, such as recreation and tourism, necessitate a strong forestry-research base.

Given the clear importance of forestry research in sustaining forests for the future, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service asked the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources of the National Academies to undertake a study of the nation's capacity in forestry research. The Committee on National Capacity in Forestry Research was appointed to carry out the study, which was conducted to review the current expertise and status of forestry research and to examine the approaches of natural resources education and forestry-research organizations to meet future needs.

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