To CFR Faculty:
As we approach the end of the school term we are all anxious to move our undergraduate curriculum discussions ahead in concrete ways. We have many interesting suggestions and recommendations before us. Yet, recent comments by members of our Advisory Board suggest that improvements are possible if modifications are implemented.
As I read the Board's comments, I am greatly heartened by their support of our efforts to develop a more integrated curriculum that focuses on the triple bottom line indicative of sustainability. They also recognize that curriculum efficiencies are required in order to free up faculty time to pursue other scholarly activities associated with research and outreach. Board comments appear to be very supportive of the environmental science curriculum proposal but they are equally concerned that we continue to support our historic programs in "forestry." The idea of a common core is heavily supported by some, but most feel that much more emphasis needs to be placed on business and economics courses and topics.
It is very desirable that we reach an agreement that charts the course for future curricular development before the school year ends. This agreement must include the principal design characteristics of the new curriculum but NOT all of the implementation details need to be finalized at this time. We must come to closure on the desire for our four majors (excluding PSE) to share a common core including a common capstone experience; a balanced course load across the so-called "triple bottom line" in support of sustainability; and recognition that our College must support a variety of curricula that reflect the three paradigms of science, design and management.
Some of the required changes I recommend to the CTRANS proposal prior to acceptance are:
1. Add 10 credits of required economics and business courses to the CTRANS lower division requirements for all students. These courses could be taken outside of our College at a community college and should provide our students with a basic understanding of principles of markets, trade-offs, time preference, resource allocation, equity and efficiency. Explicit treatment of risk management should be included in one of these core courses. Our Implementation Team can work on the specifics when we return in the Autumn.
2. Clearly indicate that transfer students will take the CTRANS integrated core courses when they enroll at the UW. However, all preparatory course work can be taken at a community college. If substitute courses are allowed for any core classes we need to clearly so state.
3. Incorporate more elements of production forestry into the sustainable forestry curriculum in the CTRANS proposal. One way to accommodate this is to allow two tracks within this curriculum: one that focuses on the agricultural model of forest production and the other that focuses on an ecosystem-based management approach. I believe we can easily identify the specific courses that meet these objectives once the above structure is adopted. These two tracks encompass the divergent philosophies that guide the management of forests around the world. Again, our Implementation Team can work on the specifics when we return in the Autumn.
4. The environmental science curriculum requires additional work in order to clearly identify specific course requirments. I am in favor of calling this the "Forest Environmental Science" curriculum and ensuring that it satisfies our desire to firmly position our College as the leader in this academic area. The addition of this curriculum will greatly complement our other curricula and is generally supported by our Board.
Lastly, I wish to be open and honest about my beliefs regarding the eventual outcome of our curriculum redesign process. I strongly believe that our undergraduate program should be a coherent and cohesive program that is managed and maintained by ONE faculty and not seven or more "program" faculties as we have done in the past. I also believe that we, and our many constituents, will be best served by an undergraduate program that formally embraces the concept of sustainability as symbolized by the triple bottom line. I very much hope that the undergraduate program that we ultimately adopt clearly identifies what undergraduate students will be able to do (academic areas of study, communities to belong to, career paths to embark on, and so on) upon completion of their studies.
I believe we are on the threshold of an historic change in how the College will be perceived both on and off campus. As we embrace our vision of promoting sustainable forest enterprises and land and ecosystem management in an urbanizing world we have a grand opportunity to rise above our petty differences and re-position the College for a successful future. By embracing the design characteristics of the CTRANS proposal, and the changes suggested above, I believe we will have a curriculum structure that will serve our students and clients well into the future. The Implementation Team will be charged with finalizing the details of our curriculum and working out specific course details. We will also have an opportunity to consider additional input from our Advisory Board. I call on all CFR faculty to put the best interests of the College foremost in their minds and come to our Wednesday faculty meeting prepared to make the changes recommended above. This is your opportunity to do the right thing. Thank you and best wishes.
B. Bruce Bare, Dean