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Scenic vista overlooking Harpers Ferry in West Virginia and the Potomac River.

About the TREES Dual-Title Graduate Program

TREES trains graduate students for a broad range of career pathways in academic and non-academic settings. It helps anticipate the linked socio-environmental challenges that revolve around managing ecosystems and natural resources in ways that continue to promote human well-being. TREES develops the transdisciplinary skills needed to foster convergent solutions in partnership with interdisciplinary scientific teams and in co-design processes with stakeholders. Such transdisciplinary training helps TREES address critiques of academic institutions: namely that such institutions are not always respondent to the professional skills required by non-academic agencies, including science communication, team building, group facilitation, and critical thinking. 

TREES embraces emerging transdisciplinary scholarship that champions the coupling of decision-making to ‘the real world,’ creating engaged approaches in graduate training that will inspire a new generation of transdisciplinary scholar-practitioners. Graduates of the TREES program can capably draw upon materials from the biophysical, sociocultural, and sociodemographic arenas in an integrated, collaborative framework. They have developed the ability to communicate effectively with stakeholders affected by natural resource and environmental change issues and be able to interact with a broad array of stakeholders in public settings.

Program Background

The Transdisciplinary Research on Environment and Society (TREES) dual-title program builds on the strong history of student training and graduate placements of the antecedent Human Dimensions of Natural Resource and the Environment (HDNRE) dual-title graduate program. After thoughtful review (both external and internal) of the original program in recent years and a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship award (NRT-INFEWS: Landscape-U, Impactful partnerships among graduate students and managers for regenerative landscape design), the program was renewed as TREES in 2022. This program leverages University strengths in social, natural, and design sciences to address food, energy, water, climate, and conservation issues at landscape scales through innovation in graduate training for transdisciplinary problem-solving and professional development.