Proposal: Survey of Forestry Programs and Professional Ethics

Proposal to NAUFRP to cooperate on a Survey of Forestry programs on Professional Ethics

LCI  Feb. 27 2018

Quick Look:  Proposed survey of programs at p. 4

Proposed student survey at p. 8


Years ago I conducted an informal survey of SAF accredited programs to see what they were doing on professional ethics.  Only half responded… which is a clue.  This was while I was preparing my readings volume on the subject.  Responses received were discouragingly fragmentary and brief.  Many took the form of “Oh, our faculty talk about it in various courses”…. Which left wishing for some specifics.

I think it’s time to try this again.  A summary would be a valuable piece of our projected Ethics Special Section for the Journal.  We need a new strategy.  I think if school Deans/Directors receive a request from a peer, and see support from NAUFRP, they might take an information request seriously.

I’m thinking such a survey with backing from NAUFRP might well help raise consciousness of the issues in instruction on professional ethics.   I think more than a few deans and directors are from scientific backgrounds and may never have even read the SAF Code.  Further, many students seeking careers in various environmental fields have no obvious professional societies to look to. I know when I was at Yale, the only students who took my Ethics Workshops were the MF students – who were required to.   We would not want to confine our attention only to programs in traditional forestry.

Do you think I could get 5 minutes of the Yale SFES Curriculum Committee’s time to discuss possible curriculum requirements for all our students?  This is a key question that nobody wants to face.  They’ll say “there’s no time”.  My son earned a degree in electrical engineering;  in his curriculum was a 3 credit course on professional ethics.   Considering how much engineers need to learn, nobody can tell me that in forestry training “there’s no time”.  The purpose of this survey, though,  is not to make recommendations on what programs should do, but to uncover good ideas.

A possible side benefit of a survey is that we might get in touch this way with younger faculty and others who are doing something with ethics, who’d like to learn more, and who have good teaching materials they’d be happy to share.  There is some interest in SAF in the idea of collecting cases and teaching materials onto an SAF website.

Since this is entirely a volunteer effort, limits must be set.  I am reluctant to take on a wide scope of content unless there is very strong support.  The initially proposed limits are arbitrary and remain open to discussion.   But the student survey should be set up so that individual institutions can add questions for their own use.

Further, since the scope of this effort is for students and not experienced practitioners, the level of awareness on their part should not be overestimated.

Read more here Proposal to NAUFRP_ survey of schools on ethics-1

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