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The world's first School of Natural Resources will be established at the University this fall. Long a pioneer in this area of human knowledge, the University will widen its teaching and research, through the new School, to consider everything  which nature has placed on, under,  and over the earth, in their relation to man.

Plans for the comprehensive and unique new program were developed over a long period of time and announced by University officials ten days ago. The School of Natural Resources will expand the activities of the present School of Forestry and Conservation, which it will replace. Samuel T. Dana, Dean of Forestry  and Conservation ever since the  School, as a School, was established at Michigan in 1927, will assume leadership as Dean of the new School when  it begins operations in September.

Natural resources of all kinds, both organic and inorganic, will be considered in the curricula of the new unit. Research into their management and  development, as well as service to the entire State in conservation and wide  use of resources, will be a part of the  School's activities.

"Man's material existence is based on natural resources," Dean Dana points out. "Our increasing demands on these resources have resulted in many wasteful and unwise practices which are of concern to every citizen. The prosperity of the farmer in Iron County and of the automobile mechanic in Detroit are equally dependent on an abundant and continuing supply of natural resources from, which come food, clothing, shelter and, the raw materials for industry. The layman, as well as the specialist, must have a knowledge of the importance of all natural resources in local, national and world affairs, and of the basic philosophy and principles underlying their conservation."

The new School is being designed to meet that need by providing knowledge through specific courses and as a part of courses dealing primarily with other subjects, such as the biological and physical sciences, the social sciences, and even the humanities.

Dean Dana emphasizes that conservation education will occupy an important place in the new School under provisions of a ten-year $100,000 grant from the Charles Lathrop Pack Forestry Foundation (ALUMNUS, July  16, 1949). It provides for an additional faculty member, the Pack Professor of Conservation, who will develop comprehensive graduate and undergraduate programs along much broader lines than those traditionally followed in the training of the forester, wildlife manager or other specialists.

The Pack grant, which helped pave the way for the new School, is unique in recognizing the need for men with a broad training relating to all natural  resources in addition to those with specialized training in specific fields.   Under this approach, emphasis will be placed on education in the social  sciences so that students will appreciate the economic, social and political factors involved in the wise  utilization of the nation's natural resources. 

"No group is in a better position to exercise leadership," Dean Dana feels,  "than our college graduates. The University faces the task of giving its  student body a clear-cut understanding of the basic importance of natural resources and their conservation."  Special attention will be paid to reaching prospective teachers in the feeling that their work with children can do much to create the "well-informed"  public so necessary for the success of conservation measures. In this endeavor, a close relationship will exist between the new School and other units of the University, including the departments of geology, geography,  botany and zoology in the College of  Literature, Science and the Arts, and  the program of regional and city planning in the College of Architecture and Design.

In the curriculum of the new School, professional education will continue to  be given in forestry, wood technology, wildlife management and fishery management. In addition, nonprofessional  courses and programs dealing with  those and other resources, such as soils, minerals and waters, will be offered along with land-use planning and general conservation. Agricultural and mineral resources will be considered in these programs, but Dean Dana stresses that no professional training in agriculture or mining engineering will be offered.

Additional assistance to the objectives of the School was supplied by another grant from the Foundation last week. It will provide $10,000 a year for a three-year program of research directed at broad problems of conservation as they affect the well-being of  man.

In developing and establishing the first School of Natural Resources, the  University is again asserting educational leadership. Back in 1881 Michigan offered the first regular courses  in forestry to be given in the United  States. In 1903, the University became one of the first educational institutions to establish a separate department of forestry. And in 1927, when that department was expanded into the School of Forestry and Conservation, the new unit again was the first  of its kind in the nation.

Now, the advancement and broadened scope of the School of Natural  Resources is particularly significant for the State of Michigan because of its rich resources in soil, forests, wildlife, fish, minerals, and water. University educators feel that it can be of tremendous service to all of Michigan by mobilizing the forces of the entire  institution in a field of basic importance to every citizen of the State.


Long-time head of the School of Forestry and Conservation will assume Deanship of the new School of Natural Resources.

The Michigan Alumnus

May 13, 1950, page 385

The University of Michigan’s New School of Natural Resources

Is World’s First