Faculty Highlight: Kristen Nelson
Professor Kristen Nelson contributes to the interdisciplinary strength of the Department of Forest Resources with her research and teaching in the human dimensions of natural resources. She seeks to know what, for example, the role of community leaders in wildfire preparedness is and what the complexities are of paying community members to conserve forests. Her research is local to global in scale, from studying turfgrass fertilization and water quality in the Twin Cities to risk assessment in Brazil. What unites her scholarship in a wide array of contexts is her interest in the interplay between human communities and environmental changes.
Her research informs her teaching in courses like Environmental Conflict Management, Leadership and Planning, in which students simulate a conflict negotiation within the framework of a real environmental issue in the Lake States. Nelson also teaches courses on environmental policy, law, and problem-solving, core curriculum within the Forest and Natural Resource Management major, Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management (ESPM) major, and Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology major.
She also supports the undergraduate curriculum by bringing University writing initiatives and collaboration back “home” to CFANS. The Writing Enriched Curriculum (WEC), explains Nelson is a “conversation at the University level that illuminates writing as one of the primary elements of the academic experience, for undergraduates, for faculty and for everyone.” Central to her work with WEC was evaluating key attributes of writing and taking an inventory of writing components within the ESPM curriculum. It was determined that ESPM has some of the richest and most varied writing assignments, ranging from outreach flyers to video scripts to policy briefs to research articles. Now in the third year of exploration of writing in ESPM, Nelson is seeking input from employers on how to prepare students for writing in different contexts beyond academia.