Topic: Should all Forestry Students learn the same? - Generalization versus Specialization (following the conference of ICA-Edu Symposium Life Science Graduates Fit for Europe)
April 16th -18th, 2015 in Vienna, Austria, at BOKU
Photo by Claudia Becker
About the Conference
The discussion of a standard curriculum of forest sciences, e.g. throughout Europe, and a standard competence profile of the graduates is not new. There was an “undefined consensus”, that forest graduates should have a certain know how to meet the expectations of the forestry sector. With the implementation of the Bologna process, which strongly focusses on learning outcomes and competences. this discussion has gained new attention.
Curriculum development is an ongoing process, strongly driven by enhancements in science and society needs. However some of key challenges remain for all Forestry Bachelor and Master programmes across Europe:
- typical standard competences versus individual profiles to meet the expected future job perspectives of the graduates
- subject specific knowledge versus generic competences of the graduates
- general standard curricula versus specialized programmes addressing the regional needs and strengths of the Forest Faculties and/or Universities
- general approach in the curriculum development: (i) outcome/competence oriented (looking at the graduates), or (ii) scientific discipline based (science driven).
- definition of the field of forestry: a more narrow application oriented approach, versus a wider, covering also neighboring disciplines
- learning paradigm versus instruction paradigm
At the SILVA Network conference 2005 in Wageningen we asked about the future minimum standard for forest education in Europe at the Bachelors and Masters level. The conclusion was (see also in the proceedings on our homepage):
(i) There is no consensus about content and workload for curricula like we had in our traditional university and “Fachhochschule”
(ii) There is a strong regional differentiation related to the backyard of the university (e.g. region, country), which reflects the regional society demands, and this diversity persists
The importance of the local situation seems to have a lasting impact on both the type of universities and the contents of the academic forestry education. There will be no uniformity, but different profiles of curricula in different places, which – with a growing mobility – highly increases the students’ opportunities for individual qualification profiles.
The universities will cooperate, even share resources in joint activities like teaching, but they will also compete more than before. The individual competence profiles of the graduates depend on the possibility of choosing elective courses or limited specializations in different lines of studies – examples ranging from traditional high proportions of compulsory courses to elaborated ways of offering different options to the students. Ten years later it seems worthwhile to reconsider core studies and specialities and assess the ongoing developments.
Read more: Announcement
Read more: Proceedings
List of accepted contributions (as of April 2nd) - pdf