Chadwick Dearing "Chad" Oliver

Pinchot Professor of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and Director of Yale‘s Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry

Teaching Statement

    Teaching an integral part of research, since it demands synthesis and expanding of ideas; consequently, I have sought to maintain teaching experience on many levels.  I presently teach in the classroom, laboratory, and field to graduate and mid career students, in large and small classes and to native- and non-native-English speaking students.  

    My teaching interests are synergistic with my research interests.  I have tried to integrate many sciences to avoid the historical trend toward academic specialization.  My teaching concentrates on giving students the basic knowledge, the skills to enable them to update this knowledge as a lifelong process, and the leadership skills to apply this knowledge.

     “Global Resources and the Environment” gives graduate students a global understanding of the many aspects, behaviors and interactions of the environment and resources throughout the world–climate, landforms, water, biodiversity, people, forests, agriculture, energy, and consumption.  The course gives a holistic, integrated perspective and how the factors change with time.  It also emphasizes how to access and utilize information on global resources and how to distinguish sound information from unsound.  It integrates global data and an understanding of the processes behind the data.

    “Managing Resources” gives graduate students an understanding of the many tools and techniques used in resource management through lectures and exercises.  The tools and techniques include annual and multi-year “windows of opportunity,” seasonal considerations, calculating sustainability, inventory methods, projection methods, developing and tracking project timelines and budgets, tradeoff analyses, understanding costs & depreciation, continuous quality improvement, adaptive management, and others.  .  Specific resources covered in the course are landforms, water (flooding, irrigation, flow, fisheries), people (age, culture, education, etc.), infrastructure (transportation, land ownerships, etc.), wildlife, grazing & agriculture, timber, biodiversity, hazard protection, recreation, and urban/rural interface.

    “Seminar in Environmental and Natural Resource Leadership” gives graduate students a good grasp of issues that they will face as they move into leadership positions. A leadership position is where a person is responsible for outcomes but needs the help of others to accomplish them.  By having this grasp, and how to deal with the issues, the student will be able to make the transition to leadership more smoothly.  The course includes field trips to New York City and Washington, D.C., to visit financial, foundation, government, ENGO, and private industry leaders.  Course material covers  transactional VS transformational leaders; mental models; communicating; decision analysis; strategic planning (core competencies, segmenting, strategic allies); organizations; addressing conflict, personalities, cultures; groupthink; “ball-park figures;” time lines & budgeting; dealing with mistakes; firing & laying off people; motivating people; keeping and organization moving; transitioning; sunsetting.

    I teach my early specialty in Forest Stand Dynamics as mid-career courses; however, it is extremely well covered as a graduate course by Professor Ann Camp.

    I also coordinate and teach mid-career Executive Courses in Forestry, covering many of the current issues but keeping them in context of the scientific realities and resource limitations.  The course is intended for industry, policy, ENGO, and financial personnel, so that all groups can engage in an informed level of discourse at future encounters.