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Divergent Trends in Accredited Forestry Programs in the United States: Implications for Research and Education

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Undergraduate forestry programs in the United States have been accredited by the Society of American Foresters since 1935. Over the subsequent 75 years, the list of accredited undergraduate programs has grown, but several of the original programs have recently dropped their forestry programs or their accreditation. When forestry programs were first accredited in the United States, they were all housed in larger research universities. In recent decades, there has been a contraction of forestry programs at universities with a strong research/doctoral education emphasis and an expansion at other universities and colleges in programs with little or no research/doctoral education. This trend is also apparent if the number of graduates by current Carnegie classification is compared from 1935 to 1960 with 2010. These trends raise important questions regarding forestry education at a time when many are calling for more broadly trained foresters that can understand and apply emerging science and management trends. If this trend continues, it might result in more narrowly trained foresters and shortages of researchers and teachers with professional training. For a profession that prides itself on advancing the “science, education, technology, and practice of forestry,” these trends suggest a future where the science becomes increasingly separated from the practice.

Keywords: Carnegie classification; accreditation; forest science; professional forestry education; technical forestry education

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 9, 2012

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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