Warner College of Natural Resources introduces new human dimensions major

Due to change in the problems conservationists face today, the Warner College of Natural Resources will offer a new major to its students this spring.

The human dimensions of natural resources major was approved through faculty council Oct. 6. It will be a collaboration of different concentrations that the college already offers.

Tara Teel, an associate professor, explains how the department has pulled together the curriculum for this new major.

“We took the environmental communication and the parks and protected area management concentrations and merged them, and then added new things around that,” Teel said. “There’s still a really strong emphasis on those two areas within this major.”

Students will not be asked to select a concentration, but most said they are still proud to have this new identity.

Head of the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department Michael Manfredo said students pushed him to develop this new major.

“It was a contingent — it wasn’t just, like, one that came to me,” Manfredo said. “They had already started to take some of these new courses, and they wanted that identity.”

Manfredo and Teel said they spent almost three years getting the major approved. Part of this process included asking various agencies about the skills they want to see in prospective employees.

“We asked people from a wide range of organizations and agencies that also represent some of these jobs that we are talking about, ‘What skills do you feel like conservation professionals entering your organization need to have?’” Teel said.

They referred to these answers while determining what material to teach, and communication and leadership are two examples. Skills like this are now taught in the curriculum for this major.

Sara Brooker, a junior at CSU, is planning to declare a human dimensions of natural resources major. She said she is excited to put this new title on her resume.

“The main reason I switched was to get that social side of things,” Brooker said. “I wanted to know how to communicate the science to the public. Because, of course, the science is important, but it doesn’t do anything if it’s not communicated correctly.”

Toward the end of their degree, students are required to do a five-credit internship. An internship coordinator helps these students find a position that is right for them, and most of them are offered a full-time job.

“Fifty-five percent of students doing an internship in our program, right out of college, will get a long-term, permanent position,” Teel said.

Students in this major will be working in a hands-on environment. Manfredo said professors will use experiential learning techniques. This is something the department prides itself on.

“This isn’t just classroom stuff — we’re really proud of getting students out and into the field,” Manfredo said. “I mean, if you’re going to talk about parks, the best place to do it is in a park.”

This article was published in The Collegian October 14, 2015.

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