Education as a driver of change in U.S. forests and the forest sector

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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


The purpose of this paper is to examine education as a driver of change in U.S. forests and the forest sector over the next two decades. Likely outcomes in general education include: (1) greater emphasis on the production of information products and services associated with a knowledge-creation society; (2) more emphasis on nondiscipline-specific or generic and transferable competencies; (3) increase in the importance of information and communication technologies in the development of knowledge-creation skills and competencies; (4) greater attention paid to the environment in which students learn, with an overall emphasis on engagement, and in particular on the relationship between instruction and student outcomes; and (5) expansion of virtual, informal lifelong learning made possible by an infrastructure of digital networks complementing the instructor-mediated learning approaches. Expectations from natural resources education include: (1) better integration of the ecological, social, and economic dimensions of sustainability and their application through policy, planning, and management; (2) stronger emphasis on field-based youth education about natural resources and forest ecosystems in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education; (3) transition in higher education from classical teaching methods to learning-centered methods; (4) increase in distance learning to serve nontraditional students and practicing professionals on a global scale; (5) replacement of many of the specialized degrees at the bachelor’s level, such as forestry and wildlife management, with a rigorous interdisciplinary degree in natural resources or ecosystem management and specialization at the master’s level; (6) increased emphasis on 2-year associate’s degrees with technical skills aligned with employer needs; (7) increased educational opportunities for practicing professionals designed to meet their needs at various stages in their careers; (8) a growing need for increasing scientific and natural resources literacy in the public and with decision makers; and (9) increase in gender and racial or ethnic diversity.

Publication Title

Drivers of change in U.S. forests and forestry over the next 20 years. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-197.