As natural resource management grows more complex, natural resource curricula continually must expand to incorporate new topics and techniques. At the same time, colleges and departments are pressured to keep within tight budgets, and to meet the demands of students, parents and legislators to minimize the length of time needed to acquire a degree. In the College of Natural Resources (CNR) at Utah State University (USU), one strategy for achieving these apparently conflicting needs has been to create "core" courses that can serve students in all CNR majors, thereby reducing the potential for overlap and redundancy. When the university switched in 1998 from a quarter to a semester calendar, the college was challenged to maintain a core while reducing the number of required credits, continuing to meet professional accreditation standards, and participating in an expanded university-wide general education program. One way we tried to meet that challenge was to develop a new core course called "Natural Resources and Society" that would simultaneously: (1) meet the core goal of introducing majors to the human dimensions of natural resources; (2) meet the general education goal of providing a broad introduction to the ideas and methods of the social sciences; (3) attract large numbers of non-CNR students (important because some university funding is tied to student credit hours); and (4) recruit students into the university's lowest-enrollment college. This paper describes our evaluation of the course's success at meeting those objectives.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/mark_brunson/5/