The University of Montana has launched a new master’s and doctoral degree program in systems ecology. The state Board of Regents unanimously approved the new degree offerings during its September meeting.
Systems ecology studies ecological science at large-landscape and regional scales. The discipline also looks at human-mediated landscape transformations, as well as environmental and cultural systems.
Professor Ric Hauer with UM’s Flathead Lake Biological Station played a lead role in creating the new Systems Ecology Graduate Program, which will be offered by both the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Forestry and Conservation. It will be administered by the Division of Biological Sciences.
Many UM colleges and departments will collaborate on the program, as will the Ecology and Environmental Sciences graduate program at Montana State University.
“UM has made significant and purposeful strategic investment during the past two decades in faculty who pursue environmental and ecosystem science in their research and teaching, so we are uniquely prepared to offer these degrees,” Hauer said. “The program will create a focal point for the discipline, enhance the graduate educational experience, facilitate research collaboration and promote graduate student training for future employment.”
Current graduate students of faculty involved in the development of the degrees will enter the program immediately. Recruitment of new graduate students to UM and the SE program will begin this winter, with students starting their program in fall 2012.
He said many faculty members and their graduate students are interested in tackling ecological science at large-landscape scales. They also want interdisciplinary approaches to resolving nagging ecological questions and problems.
“This will improve recruitment and retention of students and faculty,” Hauer said. “It also should enhance collaboration in faculty research at UM, other universities and professionals in federal, state and tribal agencies.”
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