Knowing about trees is great, but understanding how forests and society shape one another is just as important. This course will overturn your understanding of forestry and help you see the big picture.
Its primary objectives are to (1) venture further than traditional forestry courses to look at interactions between forests and society, and (2) scrutinise global and national forest policies and their implications for forest management.
This course seeks explanations for why forests in different countries are managed in very different ways, often despite similar environmental conditions. Students typically come from 10-15 countries. The course thrives on this diversity, examining societal preconditions and policy implications for forest management with an international perspective. Students dig into contemporary forest policy analyses through hands-on exploration of problems and solutions. We scrutinise national forest management differences by examining questions like:
- What are the historic interactions between forestry and society in different countries?
- Who are the most powerful actors, and how do their interacting interests affect forest use?
- What are forest policy instruments and how do they impact forest management?
- How much do international forest policy processes affect national forest policies?
Students in this course will not just passively listen to lectures and re-tell "perfect truths" in exams. We use a variety of student-activation approaches, including reflective journal writing, participation in expert seminars, peer- and self-assessment of written essays, and active in-class discussions. A recent highlight is a role-play exercise where students act as local stakeholders to navigate a land-use conflict around establishing a new nature reserve, based on a real case from southern Sweden.
Near the end of the course, we take a two-week study trip outside of Sweden to compare forest policies and management practices in the visited regions. Students meet different stakeholders: forest owners, state forest managers, environmental NGOs, forest industry workers, researchers, and high-level forestry officials. Confronted with different interests and opinions, students get a taste of real-world complexity and link theory to decision making. In recent years, the study trip has visited Latvia and Lithuania.
This fast-paced course has been received consistently high student evaluations. It is directed by Vilis Brukas, winner of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences' pedagogic prize in 2015. The teacher team boasts top international experts from the Baltic region, including Max Krott (University of Göttingen), Norbert Weber (University of Tharandt), Ida Walling (University of Freiburg) and Thorsten Treue (University of Copenhagen).
To get a taste of course literature and its scholarly perspective, check out these publications.
An example of international comparative analysis, scrutinising selected factors behind different approaches to forest management:
Brukas, V. and Weber, N., 2009. Forest management after the economic transition—at the crossroads between German and Scandinavian traditions. Forest policy and economics, 11(8), pp.586-592.
An example of a holistic analysis of forest policy development in a single country:
Brukas, V., 2015. New world, old ideas—A narrative of the Lithuanian forestry transition. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 17(4), pp.495-515.
Welcome to the course!
Vilis Brukas, Isak Lodin and the rest of the teacher team