“Society-ready” foresters are capable of dealing effectively with the complex economic, ecological, and social issues involving forestry in the 21st century. To assess the knowledge areas, skill sets, abilities, and behaviors needed by society-ready, entry-level foresters today, we surveyed 800 forestry employers and forestry alumni from Stephen F. Austin State University (SFASU), and we also conducted focus group sessions with a total of 58 forestry employers. Important areas of knowledge on emerging issues for society-ready Bachelor of Science in Forestry (BSF) graduates included climate change, water availability and quality, and dealing with invasive plants, pathogens, and insects. However, the skill sets and abilities that involve dealing effectively with people were ranked highest in terms of areas in which the BSF curriculum at SFASU should be strengthened. This basic message—the need to improve people skills while maintaining strength and relevance in technical skills—is consistent with reports, studies, and conferences on forestry education in the United States since the early 1900s. At SFASU, we are revising the BSF curriculum to address the results of our research-based process, and we are also targeting research and outreach to address the century-old, chronic issue of how to measurably improve the knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors needed for foresters to work most effectively with people. In our research and application of results, we learned that the process of curriculum revision is just as important as the product: learning from our process will help guide other program leaders in forestry and natural resources to evaluate and revise undergraduate curricula. When done well, we believe work of this type will strengthen both the rigor and relevance in a curriculum, and the process will also strengthen relationships with alumni, employers, and other key constituents.
Bullard, Steven H.; Williams, Pat Stephens; Coble, Theresa; Coble, Dean W.; Darville, Ray; and Rogers, Laurie, "Producing “Society-Ready” Foresters: A Research-Based Process to Revise the Bachelor of Science in Forestry Curriculum at Stephen F. Austin State University" (2014). Faculty Publications. 170.
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