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Discover CALS

See how our current work and research is bringing new thinking and new solutions to some of today's biggest challenges.

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By Jenny Stockdale
  • Natural Resources
  • Environment
  • Nature
  • Water
  • Landscape
  • Natural Resources
  • Ecosystems
  • Climate
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Faculty in this department spearheaded the concept that wildlife professionals can more effectively manage species and social-ecological systems by fully considering human impact. The Center for Conservation Social Sciences (CCSS), the first center of its kind to facilitate conversations with natural resource policy makers, was born from the effort.

To reflect a broadened scope of research and scholarship, the Department of Natural Resources in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (Cornell CALS) has adopted a new name: the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment.

The effort has been a long time in the making, with department faculty working alongside the Cornell CALS Faculty Executive Committee and college leadership. In early 2020, they proposed the name change to Charles Van Loan, Cornell University’s dean of faculty. Provost Michael Kotlikoff approved the proposal this past summer and the Cornell University Board of Trustees reviewed the decision today.

Founded by renowned botanist Liberty Hyde Bailey as the Department of Forestry in 1911, the first department of its kind in the U.S., this academic unit offers programs in invasive species management, conservation genetics, ecology and conservation social sciences. It supports both traditional units — including forestry, fisheries, wildlife science and management — and modern programming related to environmental sustainability and social-ecological systems.

"Our department has a long history of adapting to the changing needs of our students and society,” said Patrick Sullivan, professor and chair of the department. “That practice has allowed us to reliably serve the college’s Land-Grant mission, offering solutions to communities across New York state and the world for more than a century. This name change reflects that tradition."

The new name also connects directly with the expanded environment and sustainability major, which launched in fall 2018 and fosters cross-college research, education and outreach.

"The challenges facing our natural world have never been more complex or more pressing,” Sullivan said. “Our goal is to meet those challenges head-on by supporting our scholars and future environmental leaders with a collaborative space where critical solutions to these problems can develop and thrive."

Header image: Students explore a natural wetlands in upstate New York during July 2019. Photo by Chris Kitchen

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