«EDUCATIONAL POLICIES COMMITTEE MINUTES 12 January 2012 A meeting of the Educational Policies Committee was held on 12 January 2012 at 3 p.m. in Old ...»
Outdoor recreation management for public lands has been taught at Utah State University since the 1930s, when a course on that topic in the Forestry curriculum is believed to have been the first of its kind in the western U.S. The university cemented its leadership in this field with the establishment of the Institute for Outdoor Recreation and Tourism and the creation of graduate degrees in the 1960s. The program’s graduate students went on to become many of the field’s leading scholars during the past 40 years.
Times have changed, however. Recreation resource management scholars of the 1980s and 1990s helped to pioneer a new approach to studying how people interact with natural settings, which included recreation use as part of a spectrum of activities and processes connecting humans with the environment. By the end of the last century a new field of study, often called “human dimensions of natural resources,” had emerged. Again Utah State has been a leader in this area, creating an Environment and Society Department in 2002 that was the first of its kind in western land-grant universities, and the following year establishing MS and PhD degrees in Human Dimensions of Ecosystem Science and Management (HDESM).
The latter program grew faster than we predicted in the R401 application we submitted in 2003. Yet while enrollments in the Recreation Resource Management master’s program have held steady over the past few years, doctoral enrollments have not. No PhD student has completed that degree since 2000. Instead, those interested in recreation use of natural lands have opted to matriculate in HDESM, thereby gaining a broader perspective on the society-environment interrelationship and graduating with a degree that qualifies them for a wider range of positions in academia, research, and land management. Currently 6 of the department’s 15 doctoral students are conducting dissertation research that incorporate recreation resources as a major component, but none has opted to pursue the PhD in Recreation Resource Management. Therefore we believe this degree can be discontinued without harm to current or future students, and without abdicating our leadership position in study of wildland recreation and its impacts.
The other universities in the western U.S. that offer students an opportunity to pursue doctoral studies in this field are: Colorado State University, Northern Arizona University, Oregon State University, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, the University of Idaho, and the University of Montana. None offers a PhD in Recreation Resource Management, and aside from USU only Colorado State and Oregon State offer doctorates focused solely on the human dimensions of environment and natural resources.
Section III: Institutional Impact
The Environment and Society Department includes three tenured or tenure-track faculty whose areas of emphasis are in recreation resources and nature-based tourism. These faculty members will continue to teach courses, direct undergraduate and master’s-level research, and obtain extramural funding to work on these topics. They also participate in the HDESM doctoral program. No change in their roles would occur with discontinuation of the Recreation Resource Management doctorate.
Section IV: Finances
We anticipate neither additional costs nor cost savings associated with eliminating the PhD in Recreation Resource Management. The principal benefit will lie in streamlining the graduate programs in Environment and Society and eliminating potential confusion among prospective graduate students.
Institution Submitting Proposal: Utah State University
Proposed Discontinuation Date: 30 June 2012
Mark Brunson, Head, Dept. of Environment and Society ___________________________________________________________________
Nat Frazer, Dean, College of Natural Resources ___________________________________________________________________
Mark R. McLellan, Vice President for Research and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies