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April 5, 2019

Why we can’t see the forest for the trees: lack of diversity

Though people from all walks of life visit our national forests, those who manage, care for and study them aren’t as diverse. According to the Census Bureau, 89 percent of foresters and conservation scientists are white.

To address this disparity, Michigan State University has partnered with Medgar Evers College, or MEC, a minority serving institution, to attract more minorities and fill the growing demand for trained foresters in the United States.

The 3+2 degree program has students spending three years at MEC and then two years at MSU. At the end of the five years, students will have earned a bachelor’s in environmental science from MEC, and a master’s in forestry from MSU.

“This partnership will increase diversity within MSU and the forestry profession,” said David Rothstein, professor, MSU Department of Forestry, who is leading the partnership. “It also will provide an opportunity for MEC environmental science students to capitalize on growing public and private sector demand for trained foresters.”

The program will begin this fall. Once the students arrive in East Lansing after year three, they’ll finish their studies and complete a professional internship. Students will pay MEC tuition for the first four years and in-state MSU tuition for the final year.

“MEC is extremely excited about the partnership as it will amplify the professional pipeline toward STEM emerging markets through robust academic and experiential training,” said Christopher Blasaczak-Boxe, MEC lead for the 3+2 program.

The 3+2 model is modular and MSU hopes to develop additional programs with MEC and other minority serving institutions, said Thomas Jeitschko, dean and associate provost for graduate education at MSU.

“The world’s prosperity is tied to our ability to be innovative, creative and to translate good ideas into solutions,” he said. “This partnership will have a tremendous impact on solving the needs of our communities, improving lives and building our economy.”

MEC was founded through collaborative efforts by community leaders, elected officials, the chancellor and the board of higher education of The City University of New York. The college, named after the civil rights leader Medgar Evers, was established in 1969 with a mandate to meet the educational and social needs of central Brooklyn. MEC is committed to the fulfillment of this mandate.

By: Kim Ward

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