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FOR 692 Capstone in Natural Resources Management

Ruth Yanai, 210 Marshall,  x6955,  rdyanai@syr.edu https://www.esf.edu/for/faculty/yanai.asp

Course Description

Students will integrate and apply their knowledge of forest and natural resources management to practical problems in their areas of professional interest.  Class sessions include opportunities to develop advanced knowledge and professional skills, such as research, analysis, management, and communication.  The final project outcomes will be delivered to clients through written reports and oral presentations. 

Course resources will be identified by the instructor and the students in accordance with projects selected based on our collective interests and expertise.

Criteria for Project Selection

1.  Content area: Forest and Natural Resources Management is very broad.  I don't expect this to be a limitation, but obviously some topics would not be suitable (promoting SU's chess team, reducing drunken driving, documenting the history of jewelry making).  Your interests should define the topics.  

This project should be an opportunity to apply knowledge skills you have developed up to this point, and it should challenge you to develop some new ones.  The skills should be transferable to other projects.  They should advance your professional development.

2.  Real need:  There must be a client (individual or organization) who will use your results.  You will develop your proposals in consultation with your clients and deliver your final reports (oral and written) to these clients, as well as to the class.  

3.  Problem solving and critical thinking:  Your solution must be novel, if only in that it applies to a specific case that has not been solved before.  Simply delivering a program that was already developed by someone else would not meet this criterion.  The best projects will be multi-dimensional and challenge you on several levels.

4.  Scope:  The project should be challenging but also feasible with the resources available to you.  We will use a system for Time and Effort planning and reporting.  In the real world, you would be counting billable hours for your client.  Using such a system is a good way to ensure that the very different projects undertaken by different students or teams are similar in the amount of effort (time) you put into them.

5.  Number:  I will not limit the number of projects or number of persons per project, except that I want each of you to have the opportunity to participate in many components of the process and the total amount of effort should be sufficient and not excessive.

Examples of past projects include guidelines for planning trail maintenance for Highland Forest, fact sheets for the ESF Willow Biomass program, research into city ordinances regulating urban gardens for Syracuse Grows, assisting Siberian lumber companies with sustainable forestry certification, and writing grant proposals to the World Bank.

The following schedule devotes the majority of our time project planning and reporting, with seven sessions reserved for development of professional skills.  The content of the skill sessions will determined by student needs and interests and organized by students in consultation with the instructor.  We will revisit and revise the schedule as needed throughout the semester.



Assignments Due

Jan. 20

Course Planning


Jan. 25

10-minute Background Presentations

Feedback for presenters

Jan. 27

Project Development

10 project ideas

Feb. 1

10-minute Background Presentations

Feedback for presenters

Feb. 3

Time accounting, networking

Your spreadsheets

Feb. 8

First Drafts of Selected Proposals

Written proposals

Feb. 10

Reflective Listening

(Conflict Resolution Center)


Feb. 15

How to write proposals

Examples of proposals

Feb. 17

First draft of remaining proposals

Written proposals

Feb. 22

Resume and Interview (John Turbeville)

Your resume

Feb. 24

Course Planning and Improvement

Anonymous feedback

Mar. 1

Planning Proposal Review 


Mar. 3

Proposals: Lisa G, Allison, Justin

Proposals or reviews

Mar. 8

Proposals: Carrie, Eric, Dan

Proposals or reviews

Mar. 10

Proposals: Lisa P, Ryan, Tyler

Proposals or reviews


Mar 15-19 (spring break)


Mar. 22

Proposals: Samantha, Steve

Proposals or reviews

Mar. 24

Research Skills: Information seeking

Three questions

Mar. 29

Eric, Ryan, Steve

Progress Reports

Mar. 31

Justin, Dan, Tyler

Progress Reports

Apr. 5

Allison, Samantha

Progress Reports

Apr. 7

Conflict Resolution Center

Interest-based problems

Apr. 12

Project Updates and Specs for Final Reports


Apr. 14

No class, gain time for projects


Apr. 19

No class, gain time for projects


Apr. 21

Final presentations: Justin, Steve, Carrie

Feedback for presenters

Apr. 26

Final presentations: Lisa G, Alison, Eric

Feedback for presenters

Apr. 28

Final presentations: Tyler, Lisa P, Dan

Feedback for presenters

May 3

Final presentations: Samantha, Ryan

Feedback for presenters

May 6

Project Reports due

Final Reports


The majority of your grade will be based on your projects:  25% for oral presentations and 40% for written reports or other products.  The project proposals are 10% and the remaining 20% is for other assignments such as time and effort accounting and feedback for presenters, and preparing for skill sessions if needed. 

Late assignments will be discounted at the rate of 10%/day.  Assignments required for class participation will be worth 0% after the day we needed them.

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Last updated 12/06/11  forestecology@esf.edu