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School of Natural Resources and Environment

School of Natural Resources and Environment


Individual Development Plan--Year 1

Individual Development Plan--Years 2-4

The doctoral program is for graduate students who have had preliminary research experience in a master's program or as an advanced undergraduate. Students use their prior experience to identify research areas in which they excel and to refine the kinds of research questions or problems they want to develop as their signature intellectual endeavor prior to employment. Students ordinarily complete the doctoral degree in four to five years after completion of the master's degree. By including a concentration in the interdisciplinary curriculum, students acquire a "T-shaped" view with depth in one area and breadth in many. Although every degree will look different, a sample plan of study has been included for your convenience.


The Interdisciplinary Ecology graduate degree program considers the Social-Ecological System the proper conceptual framework for understanding the full scope of complex, adaptive systems comprising humans in the natural world (see the curriculum webpage for a diagrammatic depiction). The degree program challenges students to understand both natural and human dynamics in order to obtain a holistic view and to foster the integration of human activities with natural resources and the environment. This is a remarkably difficult goal, but experience shows that the program works on two levels. First, students map their interests on the particular components and processes of the Social-Ecological System and select courses that provide formal training in important areas of connection. Second, the discipline of this program of study sets up a life-long habit of learning that enables alumni to continue to grow intellectually and adapt to changing needs encountered in their careers.

Supervisory Committee:

The ultimate responsibility for your degree program is yours, but the university empowers a Supervisory Committee of Interdisciplinary Ecology faculty to guide you and to decide whether you have met the program's requirements and achieved its learning outcomes. The School of Natural Resources and Environment requires four IE (Interdisciplinary Ecology) affiliated faculty members for an Interdisciplinary Ecology Ph.D. committee. The majority of your committee cannot be from the same department. The Graduate School does not require any external members on committees in this degree, but you may add non-SNRE faculty if you wish; these members are called Special Committee Members. You can work with the SNRE Academic Advisor to add Special Member/s. Special Members do not count toward the minimum committee number. Your committee should be appointed within the first year of the program.

Learning Outcomes:

To maintain its SACS Accreditation, the University requires that each graduate student's achievement of formal learning outcomes be assessed by a group of faculty. At the end of your qualifying examination and your dissertation defense, your Supervisory Committee will assess your achievement of the School's learning outcomes in the Interdisciplinary Ecology degree program. They will assess your program of study, defense of your research, and professional behavior over the duration of your degree program based on the following:

Knowledge Outcome:

Thorough understanding of the components, processes, and interactions of the Social-Ecological System.

Skills Outcome:

Competence in research methodologies for applying the scientific method to the generation of new knowledge.

Professional Behavior Outcome:

Interacting with professional peers with honesty, ethical behavior, cultural sensitivity, teamwork, and effective communication.