Urban Resources Initiative: A University Model for Clinical Urban Forestry Education
Caroline N. Scanlan, Danica A. Doroski, Colleen Murphy-Dunning, and Mark P. Ashton
Abstract: As urban land cover increases around the globe, it is increasingly important to train competent urban forestry professionals for the future. Urban Resources Initiative (URI), a program of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and an affiliated New Haven-based nonprofit, has provided field experience and learning opportunities for professional graduate students in urban and community forestry for over 25 years. URIís clinical training programs are uniquely designed to equip students with both technical skills and social competencies. They do this by working with local residents, municipal staff, and community leaders to promote community-based land and tree stewardship, restore neglected open spaces, and build social cohesion in urban neighborhoods. We used a mixed-method approach, which included semi-structured interviews with current and past URI interns as well as an online survey, to determine long-term impacts and learning outcomes from URIís clinical training programs. We also evaluated archival program documents to examine key programmatic features and confirm interview and survey trends. Survey and interview responses revealed that in addition to having gained key technical field skills, interns also obtained skill sets associated with the social dimensions of urban forestry. One-third of survey respondents identified effective ďstrategies for community engagementĒ as the most significant learning outcome from their internship experience. URIís program can serve as a unique and effective model for clinical training in urban forestry higher education, particularly for universities and nongovernment organizations interested in integrating a stronger social or community engagement component to their programs and curricula.
Keywords: Educational Programs; Higher Education; Human Dimensions of Forestry; Social Forestry; Urban and Community Forestry