The Yale Program on Forest Policy and Governance's educational activities consist primarily of key courses developed by Prof Ben Cashore, Michael Conroy, and other colleagues in which forest policy and governance is either the principal topic, or where it plays a significant role. These include:

F&ES 245b: International Environmental Policy and Governance

Ben Cashore and Maria Ivanova, Spring 2004
This course introduced students to key issues and challenges of global environmental policy and governance. We started with an introduction to the principal challenges affecting the biosphere, the underlying causes of these global-scale problems, the various efforts to address them, and then take a look to the future. The course ended with a simulation exercise in which students participate in a mock UN effort to achieve a binding global forest convention. Forest certification was taught as an example of an alternative to a global forest convention.

F&ES 521b: Seminar on Forest Certification: Origins, Systems, and Impact on Sustainability

Ben Cashore and Michael Conroy Spring 2004; Ben Cashore and Michael Washburn, Spring 2002
This seminar-style course teaches students the basics of forest certification systems and their differences, their histories, and the theory behind certification as a tool for conservation. Students will learn from the instructors as well as expert guest lecturers about the evolution, structure, and application of forest certification systems globally. In general, the first half of the class will consist of an active discussion of the week’s readings. Each student will be assigned the task of preparing a formal review of the week’s readings, and then to use this review to lead weekly discussions. The second half of the seminar will constitute a guest presentation and discussion from an outside official actively involved in real world experiences of forest certification. The seminar will explore case studies comparing both forest certification politics in different jurisdictions/countries, as well as on actual certified forests. There will also be one field trip to a landowner who was audited under one or more forest certification systems

F&ES 594a: Comparing Environmental Governance Across Countries: Theory and Evidence

Benjamin Cashore
This course explores theories of domestic and international environmental policy making in order to understand better the processes through which policy change (and stability) occurs. The course examines traditional domestic and international public policy-making processes, and emerging institutions that seek to privatize environmental governance and restructure power relations among organized interests. The course examines these questions from comparative and international perspectives. Special attention is placed on the international-domestic nexus, and the effects of economic globalization and international governance on domestic policy change.

F&ES 910b: The Evolution of Forest Policies in North America: U.S. and Canadian Perspectives on the Past, Present, and Future of our Forests

Benjamin Cashore and Jim Lyons, Spring 2003
This course seeks to explain the development of past, present, and likely future forest policies (defined as how governments and private governance systems influence the use of forest resources) in the United States and Canada. Among the factors evaluated are the influences of government, the role of interest groups, the impacts of philanthropic giving, the effects of organizations and their culture, the consequences of litigation and court decisions, and politics. Specific case studies will draw upon U.S. and Canadian experiences in dealing with management issues affecting publicly-managed lands (national forest and crown lands) in the West as well as the policies affecting private forest land management in both countries.

F&ES 513b: Social Science Research Methods

Benjamin Cashore, Spring 2003
This course is designed to provide a broad introduction to issues of social sciences research methods and design. Consideration is given to both quantitative and non-quantitative approaches to research, and no prior knowledge of statistics or methodology is expected or assumed. The course is intended primarily for doctoral students who are in the beginning stages of their dissertation research, as well as highly motivated Masters students developing methodologies or working on research papers for their thesis projects.

The course differs from other courses on research design in that it is decidedly interdisciplinary in nature (including drawing on literature from sociology, political science and anthropology), and it consciously addresses the unique nature of social science research within environmental studies. Two assertions are considered throughout the class. The first assertion is that some of the most important questions facing environmental studies have such complex answers that traditional “Popperian” approaches have difficulty being applied. Recent trends aimed at giving primacy to quantitative methods have exacerbated these difficulties, with the result that the big and really important questions, are rarely posed, let alone answered - as scientists fear being labeled less “rigorous”. A second, and slightly opposing view, is that the growing nature of the environmental crisis facing the world’s biosphere has led to frantic “policy prescription” initiatives designed to address the problem, despite little or no evidence that such designs will actually accomplish their goals, or whether they may actually have perverse effects. According to this reasoning, scholars need to undertake more dispassionate, rigorous analysis to understand better what the causes of the problem actually are, and better analyze potential effects of proposed policy alternatives.

We seek to understand the validity of both claims, and if accurate, what their direct and indirect effects might be in shaping our choices over research designs and methods. Students are also encouraged to reflect on how choices over research design might influence broader political struggles over natural resource use and pollution control.

F&ES 594a: Theoretical Lenses on Domestic and Global Environmental Governance

Ben Cashore, Fall 2001
The purpose of this course is to understand and apply theories of the policy-making processes to domestic and international cases of sustainable forest management governance initiatives. Forest policy in this course is defined as how governments and private governance systems influence the use of forest resources. Owing to the increasingly globalized nature of forest resource policy, we will examine forest resource use in a comparative and international perspective. The course takes a “scientific” approach to forest policy analysis, attempting to understand better the policy climate in which we operate. The course will also distinguish the two dominant methods of policy analysis today: understanding forest policies and why they have developed (”analysis of” policy); and applied techniques in policy analysis that are used to prescribe rationally a particular policy choice over competing alternatives (”analysis for” policy). These approaches to policy analysis are explored for their benefits and limitations in efforts to develop sustainable forest policy and institutions.

By the end of the course students should be able to:

* understand the dominant theories of the policy making process
* develop sophisticated explanations of forest policy changeand stability
* understand, apply and critically analyse, scientific “analysis of policy” approaches


Assessment Training

One goal of our program is to enable graduate students to assess forests under FSC certification regimes. To do so, we train students at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies as assessors, in the methodologies of forest certification through a series of on-the-ground training programs run by SmartWood. SmartWood is one of the two bodies accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council to carry out FSC certification assessments in the United States. SmartWood offers a standardized training module to prepare professionals to carry out assessments.

The Rainforest Alliance/SmartWood Assessor Training program involves three days of intensive field training. Topical coverage includes orientation to the FSC certification program, and skills needed to interpret FSC standards and gauge field performance on forest management operations. The workshop typically concludes with a mock assessment.

The Yale Program on Forest Certification engaged in its first Assessor training in April, 2003, and its second in April, 2004. A mini-assessment field trip was also conducted in the Spring of 2006.