MEM Specialization in Sustainable Land Management, Use and Policy

Purpose and Scope

From habitat loss to resource extraction, and from ecosystem health to climate change, the way humans develop and live on the land is a critical driver of the most pressing environmental issues. This specialization is about conservation through sustainable resource management, land use planning to preserve critical wildlife habitat and resources for people, and the development of financial and policy mechanisms for sustainable management in natural and built environments. The focus of the specialization is on land and its values in providing for food, shelter, recreation, environmental health, water resources and wildlife habitat across a wide spectrum of land covers and uses from wilderness, to farm and forest, to urban rural settlements.  This broad field looks at how humans live, use, and move across space, and given the essential nexus between land and the environment, students show substantial interest in learning the technical, legal, scientific, and policy tools of this field.
The purpose of this specialization, therefore, is to provide a pathway for building student expertise in this diverse arena. Students will begin their program with a broad overview and will then have the opportunity to select a series of core and elective courses that will establish an expertise in either of two sub-specializations: 1) natural resource management; and 2) land use planning and policy. See details below.
Students seeking employment in this area of specialization have a breadth of options, including government at the state and local level, private consulting,  land stewardship for land trusts and land conservation non-profits, advocacy, real estate development, and land management and policy organizations with interests in environmental law and planning. 


All students are required to take the five core foundation courses (15 cr) that cover general concepts, principles, and tools for the general MEM program. If students have done an equivalent course at a previous institution for the same credit or more then the requirement can be waived.
Land Measurement and Mapping (1 course, 3 cr)
All students adhering to the Land Management, Use and Policy specialization need to take one course in land measurement and mapping. This requirement can be fulfilled by completing one of the following courses:
Specialization Tracks 
Four additional courses and a capstone are required for this specialization. These courses form one of two tracks: 1) natural resource management and policy and 2) land use planning and law
1)    Natural resource management and policy is a curriculum catering to students interested in the science and policy aspects of sustainable land management applicable to a variety of land related resources (e.g. open space, wildlife conservation, and agriculture)

2)    Land use planning and law is a curriculum catering to students interested in the legal, design, planning, and policy law aspects of land development and use.
1. Natural Resource Management and Policy Track
Professional Skills
Students are required to take professional skills modules in: 1) Foundations of Environmental Leadership and Management and 2) Collaboration and Conflict Resolution Skills.  Students are also required to take any one of a variety of field trips that are offered concerning natural resource management issues and policy that the School offers over the academic year.
Specialization Electives
Students are required to take one course from each of the four topic areas.
Ecosystem Science (1 course, 3 cr)
Land Management  (1 course, 3 cr)
Land Finance and Valuation (1 course, 3 cr)
Land Policy and Society (1 course, 3 cr)
In the second year students are required to either take an integrative resource management course listed below or to conduct a project course concerning a land management or policy issue (3 cr).
2. Land Use Planning and Law Track
Specialization Core
Students are required to take the Land Use Planning Seminar (F&ES 835a) or, with faculty approval, the Online Land Use Planning Learning Module F&ES 835Ea , a 13-hour introduction to the Land Use Planning Core[2]. This course provides students with an introduction and in-depth exposure to current professional challenges in land use policy and planning (1cr).
Specialization Electives
These elective courses provide students with the opportunity to pursue deeper knowledge and experience in the track subspecialty.  Four courses are required from two subject areas; Planning and Design (2 courses); and Land Use Law and Policy (2 courses).
Planning and Design (2 courses, 6 cr)
Land Use Law and Policy (2 courses, 6 cr)
In the second year, students must complete a capstone study project or clinic in order to synthesize the information and principles that they have learned in their core and elective classes. They may take the Land Use Clinic (F&ES 971b), a client-based course focused on urban land use projects selected based on student preference; or they may engage in an independent study project under the guidance of any of the specialization faculty or through the Land Use Practice Collaborative (3 cr).

Specialization Coordinators: Mark Ashton and Josh Galperin

Specialization Faculty:  Gaboury Benoit, Mark Bradford, Ben Cashore, Susan Clark, Amity Doolittle, Eli Fenichel, Brad Gentry, Chad Oliver, John Nolon, Karen Seto.

[1]This course has prerequisites, an enrollment cap, and requires permission of the instructor.
[2]For instance, dual degree students pursuing law or architecture degrees may prefer the online option in order to use their more limited time at FES for other courses.
Share this page: