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Changes to ECo study options in Fall 2010

Posted: September 15th, 2009

Starting in the Fall of 2010, undergraduate students in the Department of Environmental Conservation (ECo)  will choose from among three programs leading to a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree:

  1. Building and Construction Technology
  2. Environmental Science
  3. Natural Resources Conservation

What's changed?

How does the transition affect current and incoming students?

  • Current Enrolled Students graduating after Fall 2010, will have the option to have their degree title remain as Forestry/Urban Forestry/Arboriculture, Natural Resource Studies, or Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation, or to file a “Change of Major” form to adopt the new Natural Resources Conservation name.
  • Incoming Students entering the department during or after Fall 2010 will major in Natural Resources Conservation, and choose from one of six concentrations

The new Natural Resources Conservation major

Natural Resources Conservation is a multi-disciplinary field that integrates rigorous academic training in the natural, conservation, and social sciences with hands-on field skills and field experiences from summer jobs, internships, and cooperative education positions with conservation organizations and the green industry. Students learn about the ecology of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and how these systems can be managed to conserve biodiversity and protect ecosystem functions while providing sustainable benefits to society. Conservation of the Earth's natural resources requires broad knowledge and experiences as well as a strong personal commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability.  The NRC major provides students with the academic background and professional training to pursue careers in the rapidly growing field of natural resources and environmental conservation. All NRC majors are also required to declare a concentration, providing students professional training in one of six specialized areas, each of which requires additional courses in addition to the core NRC requirements.

The Concentrations

Wildlife Ecology & Conservation – This concentration provides students with the essential conservation science education to study, conserve and protect wildlife populations, and the land and water environments on which they and we depend. This involves learning about the biology and ecology of wildlife; how to manage, conserve and restore wildlife populations and their habitats; how to resolve human-wildlife conflict and wildlife disease problems; and how to conserve and enhance biological diversity.

Becoming a wildlife professional requires talent, personal commitment, enthusiasm, sound technical training, and special skills. An essential component of the concentration involves obtaining hands-on field skills as part of the coursework, and field experiences from summer jobs, internships, and cooperative education positions with state, federal and international conservation organizations.

The Wildlife Ecology & Conservation curriculum provides students the knowledge and skills necessary for entry-level employment in wildlife conservation professions, or continued graduate training in wildlife ecology and conservation biology. This concentration also provides the training and coursework required to qualify for professional certification by The Wildlife Society.

Water Resources – Students choosing this concentration focus on coursework for developing ecologically sound and economically efficient water management policies and programs. Water is essential to life and is a critical resource that needs careful management to sustain human populations and ecosystems.

Students will develop skills in understanding and applying concepts to manage water resources with applications related to ecosystem impacts, water quality, climate change, storm water, and water supply. A problem-solving approach will be used to develop a systems-based and multidisciplinary perspective. Students will gain in depth understanding and skills related water quantity and quality, hydrology, economics, and management. Water issues and approaches related to local, regional, and global scales will be explored.

Urban Forestry & Arboriculture –  This concentration focuses on the management of trees in cities and suburbs, where more than 80% of people in the United States live.  These communities are the fastest growing in the country, and home to more than 50% of the world’s population.

As this trend continues, arborists and urban foresters strive to preserve trees during construction and replace trees that were removed during construction. Trees take on special importance in urban areas, where their greatest value is for aesthetics, climate modification, and habitat for urban wildlife. Urban, residential, and park environments are especially challenging for trees due to compacted soils, pavement, utility lines, and buildings.

Students in the Urban Forestry and Arboriculture concentration are qualified for professional credentials through examination by both the Massachusetts Arborist Association and the International Society of Arboriculture.

Forest Ecology & Conservation – The study of forestry at the university is based on an understanding of the ecological interactions of trees and other plants, animals, soils, water, and climate. The concentration emphasis is on conservation challenges unique to the urbanized northeast where high population densities of citizens depend on ecosystem services from forests, most of which are owned by a complex matrix of private families, individuals, non-profit conservation organizations, and state and local governments.

The goal of forestry, especially in this complex social environment, is to sustainably maintain the provision of the full suite of benefits into the future. This concentration is nationally accredited by the Society of American Foresters.

Fisheries Ecology & Conservation – This concentration provides students with the essential conservation science education in the biology and ecology of fish and other aquatic animals as well as the freshwater and marine ecosystems in which they reside. This involves learning about the structure and function of aquatic systems and their inhabitants; how to manage, conserve and restore fish and aquatic animal populations and their habitats; how to develop sustainable fisheries programs; effects of land use, water flow and contaminants on aquatic ecosystem health and fish community structure; and how to conserve and enhance biological diversity. This concentration also provides the training and coursework required to qualify for professional certification by the American Fisheries Society.

Environmental Conservation – This concentration is for students seeking to develop a focused program of study in one of the many areas of the environment and conservation not directly covered by other concentrations in the NRC major.