Forestry school, college may form 5-year program

Marking the latest in the University’s recent moves to strengthen its environmental studies offerings, a new plan proposes a closer alliance between Yale College and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

The plan would create a five-year bachelors-master’s program in environmental studies and will face a vote at Thursday’s Yale College faculty meeting. The University’s Committee on Majors is studying a separate proposal that would make Studies in the Environment a stand-alone environmental studies major, and the faculty may also vote on that initiative at the meeting next week.

The new proposal for the joint-degree program would resemble similar offerings of combined five-year bachelors-master’s programs in music, architecture and engineering.

“If the faculty approves it, which I would guess to be likely, it will represent a significant new opportunity for students interested in the study of the environment,” Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead said.

According to a copy of the proposal obtained by the Yale Daily News, the joint bachelors-master’s program would admit Yale undergraduates by the beginning of their fifth semester at the University.

Students would complete either a Master’s in Environmental Management or a Master’s in Environmental Science and would have to meet all the requirements for graduation in both Yale College and the forestry school. They also would be obligated to take the regular prerequisites for admission to the forestry school and four advanced undergraduate classes that satisfy core forestry school graduation requirements, as well as complete four courses within the forestry school, according to the proposal.

A student would have to complete two summer internships, likely in some sort of field work.

Although students would be admitted tentatively at the beginning of their fifth term, final acceptance would be withheld until the seventh semester at Yale.

James Gustave Speth, dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, said the program would not be geared exclusively toward students in the potential new environmental studies major.

“We haven’t grounded the program in specific majors,” Speth said.

But the expansive proposal for the new environmental studies major, which several professors have predicted will receive approval, forms another key part of the University’s recent environmental initiatives.

Brodhead said the proposed stand-alone environmental studies major would build many bridges between the undergraduate and forestry schools. He said the two proposals in tandem represent a large step toward making Yale a trailblazer in environmental studies. Yale is one of the few top universities that has its own school of forestry and environmental science.

“The University is clearly on the move in [environmental] studies,” Speth said.

Speth added that he is glad the resources of the forestry school may be available to undergraduates. For example, several of the proposed core classes for an environmental studies major would be offered out of the forestry school.

“In the past, it hasn’t been that accessible,” Speth said.

Yale Student Environmental Coalition co-chair Misti Munster ’02 said she is so excited about the two proposals that she feels like commending the administration.

“I think they’re doing some really great work,” Munster said. “I think a lot of us take environmental studies and science very seriously and it’s great to finally have an outlet. — I really hope this goes through.”

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