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Re-imagining environmental science and policy graduate education for the twenty-first century using an integrative frame

Abstract

To meet society’s need to better understand and respond to ever-more complex, interwoven problems of environment, development, and society—including environmental health risks, climate change adaptation, and sustainable development—we applied an integrative frame to re-imagine, re-design, and deploy a professionally oriented, academically rigorous 2-year/12-unit Master of Science program. Our scholar–practitioner faculty uses the framework to tackle complex, real-world problems, emerging from a strong interdisciplinary ethos. It thus acts as a pragmatic system to guide pedagogy, curriculum, research and practice, and student experience. The frame weaves together six domains (6-D): (1) project framing, concept, and design; (2) development topics and sectors; (3) stakeholder interests, assets, and relationships; (4) knowledge types, disciplines, models, and methods; (5) variable temporal and spatial scales and networks; and (6) socio-technical capacities. At our institution, the need to replace 2.0 of 3.5 tenure/tenure-track program faculty posed both a challenge and an opportunity to re-think one of the oldest environmental science and policy programs in the USA which began in 1971. We pose and answer: What kinds of integrative educational experience, curriculum, and research practicum can best prepare environmental MS students in the twenty-first century? Two examples—one domestic, one international—illustrate the practicum.

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Correspondence to Timothy J. Downs.

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Downs, T.J., Carr, E.R. & Goble, R. Re-imagining environmental science and policy graduate education for the twenty-first century using an integrative frame. J Environ Stud Sci 7, 177–188 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-017-0423-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-017-0423-z

Keywords

  • Integrative
  • Master of Science
  • Environment and development