Coming Soon! Changes to Field Session
by Stephanie Snell
The Department of Forest Resources faculty have unanimously approved several changes, taking effect in 2020, to future field sessions taught at the Cloquet Forestry Center. The changes were proposed to reduce the cost to students, provide additional flexibility in summer employment, incorporate a new course structure, and provide a better overall learning experience.
In the current model, students enroll in two separate suites of courses, an introductory field session in August and an advanced session in May. Both field sessions are outside of the fall and spring academic calendars, respectively, meaning students pay additional tuition for these experiences. Beyond the direct costs of field sessions, students have indicated the financial burden of taking time off from a job for three weeks and paying “double rent” for field session lodging and rent back home.
In the new model, the credits for May session will be fully integrated into the spring semester tuition, relieving students of paying additional tuition. The August session will be partially integrated into the fall semester tuition, meaning that, rather than requiring students to register for four credits of summer term, they will instead register for two credits of summer term and two credits of fall term. The two course credits that will take place during fall term will be included in students’ credit counts for fall term tuition, cutting the number of August session credits and associated costs in half.
August session classes will begin several days later than in past years, allowing students to extend their summer employment opportunities and shortening the time between the end of the session and the start of fall semester. The number of days of instruction will remain the same at 17 days. Courses will still be taught in an integrated fashion, but rather than all occurring simultaneously, courses will be scheduled with only slight overlap. In the August session, measurements and plant identification will be integrated in the first week; all three courses will be integrated for a couple of days the second week; and plant identification and ecology will be integrated the second and third week. Measurement activities and most ecology activities will occur in a shorter span of time, on a more compressed schedule.
In upcoming advanced May sessions, students will take three required courses instead of choosing between two or three in the current model. Content and exercises will be integrated across the three courses to show the connections between topics, with the goal of better preparing students for field forestry positions. There will be a field trip to the Cloquet Forestry Center in March, followed by a discussion in April. On the last day of spring semester finals, students will report to Cloquet for a two-week field session.
The Department would like to thank and acknowledge all of the students who provided their perspectives and feedback that helped shape the newly approved changes to the curriculum. We would also like to thank the faculty members who provided support in shaping curriculum changes.