The Public Lands and Natural Resources Policy certificate examines critical and emerging issues in natural resources and public lands management across the United States.

Courses in this certificate provide an overview of major laws and policies relevant to environmental management, a sophisticated discussion of environmental and public land controversies and potential opportunities for resolution as well as an exploration of the role of federal, state, tribal and local governments, businesses, non-governmental organizations, various fields of study and the general public in the environmental policy process.

This certificate can be taken as a standalone offering or as part of the Master of Science in Outdoor Recreation Economy program.

At the end of this certificate, you should understand:

  • historical, ongoing and future issues in natural resources and public lands management;
  • significant environmental policies, as well as ongoing environmental challenges and solutions;
  • the role that various governments, government branches and government agencies, as well as business, non-governmental organizations and interested parties play within the environmental management arena; and
  • different cultural and interdisciplinary approaches to public lands and natural resources management.

Course Descriptions

Asynchronous Subject Courses (2 Credits Each)

This course explores the historical legacy, present controversies and the projected future of public lands. You learn how fundamental concepts of property, economics and democracy have impacted environmental law and examine the role that federal, tribal, state and local governments play in the management of public lands. You study major laws such as NEPA, RFRA and the Antiquities Act, as well as major legal disputes such as Bears Ears and the San Francisco Peaks. Intersecting interests in water, sacred lands, wilderness, outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing, resource extraction, pollution mitigation and grazing are examined with a focus on practical, law-based perspectives.

At the end of this course, you should:

  • be familiar with the history of public lands in the United States;
  • understand the legal and policy frameworks surrounding public lands; and
  • be able to critically examine how laws and policies address public lands challenges.

In this course, you explore an interdisciplinary approach to environmental justice and stewardship. You learn how law, policy and outdoor recreation practices are connected to class, gender, racial and religious disparities. You also learn how law and outdoor recreation practices can contribute to both environmental integrity and social equity. Issues of water justice, public lands, sacred sites, biodiversity, wildlife management, public health and access to nature through broader outdoor recreation are addressed as well.

At the end of this course, you should:

  • be familiar with environmental justice concepts;
  • understand the interplay between environmental justice and environmental and natural resources stewardship; and
  • be able to turn a critical lens to the effectiveness of legal and policy frameworks for advancing equity in the environmental and natural resources arenas.

In this course, you explore the nuances of past and ongoing environmental movements and trends with a focus on public land management, outdoor recreation, water allocation, tribal self-determination, access to nature and environmental justice. You study how law and policies have changed over the years and examine strategies for changing law to ensure a more sustainable, inclusive and principled relationship with nature and fellow citizens. You determine areas where environmental disputes are likely to arise, particularly as it relates to outdoor recreation, and potential opportunities for collaboration and resolution.

At the end of this course, you should:

  • recognize environmental movements that have shaped natural resources and public lands management today;
  • be familiar with the alliances and coalitions that developed for natural resources and public lands uses and protections; and
  • understand how legal changes, over time, have resulted in differential protections and management approaches.

The challenge of managing our natural resources is growing increasingly complex given threats from climate change and development as well as an increase in diverse and competing values. In this course, you use case studies across topics and geographies, theory and practical policy tools to address problems of natural resource policy and management for just and durable outcomes.

At the end of this course, you should:

  • be familiar with the history of natural resources management in the United States;
  • understand the legal and policy frameworks involved in natural resources management; and
  • develop tools for critically examining natural resources management decision-making.

Synchronous Project Course (2 Credits)

In this course, you apply the concepts, knowledge and skills gained in the other courses within this certificate to complete a real-world project in the public lands and natural resources policy sector. You analyze, research, develop and implement innovative strategies, processes and designs and solutions within the context of the outdoor recreation economy. This course has an experiential foundation and requires collaboration with colleagues and partner organizations.

This course should empower you to:

  • apply the skills and knowledge acquired during the certificate courses to complete a solutions-focused project;
  • practice how to successfully engage with a team and stakeholders; and
  • communicate professionally with governments, NGOs and the outdoor recreation industry.

You must complete all other courses in this certificate prior to enrolling in this course.