FOR 488: Forests and Natural Resources of Africa. This course is designed to examine forest conservation on a global level.

Course Name

Spring semester at PSU: FOR 488, Section 1: Global Forest Conservation (3 credits), Tu Th 9:05-10:20am, 11 Ferguson Building

Three to four weeks during the Maymester in Africa: FOR 488, Section 2: Forest and Natural Resources of Africa (0.5 credits)


All students are eligible to participate, though preference will be given to College of Agricultural Sciences students and an application is required.

Prerequisites: A passion and interest in international development, world forests, their management and fate.

Students can take FOR 488, Section 1 in the spring without taking FOR 488, Section 2 in the summer, but students must be enrolled in the spring course to take the summer course, and commit to the summer course with a deposit equal to the airfare cost by early February.

Course Description

Do tropical forests hold a cure for cancer? Can forests save the planet from global warming? How do forests feed millions of people around the world? What’s the relation between forests and the human body? This course tackles these provocative questions by challenging learners to think about forests as an integral part of sustainable landscapes and economic development. Learners with an interest in global issues will develop an understanding of the environmental, economic and social factors influencing forest conservation and development. Learning will happen via a combination of in-class and online activities (in lieu of in class face time) designed across five modules that incorporate and culminate in real in-country project. Embedded in the course is an optional is 3-4 week Maymester study tour to two African countries.

Course Objectives

Module I. Forests systems around the world

Outcome:  Demonstrate the ability to contextualize the distribution, types and extent of the world’s forests

  • Objective 1: Create a typology of the world’s forests
  • Objective 2: Describe the components of a selected typology
  • Objective 3: Write a profile of a particular countries forest (selected for term project or travel)

Module II. Forests for people and society

Outcome: Demonstrate the ability to explain role of communities in natural resource management (NRM)                 

  • Objective 1: Summarize examples of participatory methods in NRM
  • Objective 2: Describe the general rules and institutions and property rights in forest management
  • Objective 3: Select examples of traditional Ecological Knowledge and Resource Management (selected for term project or travel)

Module III. Forests for development 

Outcome Demonstrate the ability to recognize the role of forests in economic development

  • Objective 1: Critique various arguments on forests in economic development
  • Objective 2: Judge the effectiveness of international agreements in forestry
  • Objective 3: Assess the national, regional and local plans and programs for forestry (selected for term project or travel)

Module IV. Forest for the environment

Outcome: Demonstrate the ability to contrast environmental conservation and industrial production in forests

  • Objective 1: Describe key ecological factors of forests and trees role in multifunctional landscapes
  • Objective 2: Relate to the ecosystem services forests provide society
  • Objective 3: Debate the conservation vs development debate in forestry for a specific country (selected for term project or travel)

Module V. Project design

Outcome: Demonstrate the ability to design a forestry project

  • Objective 1: Build an ecological and economic plan for the term project
  • Objective 2: Describe constraints and issues facing implementation of the term project
  • Objective 3: Report on the results of the term project

Why should I participate in the embedded course to Africa?

  • If you would like to assist in project planning/implementation
  • If you are willing to discuss forest and natural resource conservation and management to host partners
  • If you want to experience the diversity of African environment, society, and culture


The course budget is currently being established, but is estimated to be about $3500 (including airfare) plus 0.5 credits of summer tuition/fees.

More Information

Contact the course leader, Dr. Mike Jacobson at for more details.