On February 8, 2020, Yale President Peter Salovey and the Yale Corporation, the university’s board of trustees, approved plans by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies to change its name to the Yale School of the Environment. At the same time, they also voted to re-establish The Forest School at the Yale School of the Environment.
This is a historic moment for the School and the questions and answers below offer clarity and context for this important decision.
Q: Why did the School make this change?
A: The new name, Yale School of the Environment, better reflects the mission of the School and the many ways that the School is addressing the increasingly complex and varied environmental challenges we face. The School’s research and teaching are now conducted across a broad range of areas, and we believe the current name limits the ability to communicate the full breadth of this important work — and the range of future leaders we are producing — on the Yale campus and to the greater world. This clarity is essential to the School’s continued success in attracting prospective students, scholars, faculty, and partners. It will also help assure employers that we are developing future leaders equipped to tackle a wide scope of challenges and in many different disciplines.
At the same time, we are re-establishing “The Forest School at the Yale School of the Environment” to reflect the historic importance of forestry at this School and the vital role that the study and teaching of forests will continue to play. The Forest School will have a dedicated faculty, curricula for the Master of Forestry and Master of Forest Science degrees, field programs and forest properties, as well as a clear identity within the School of the Environment.
Q: Why is this happening now?
A: This decision comes at the end of a long and deliberative process that started during the School’s strategic planning exercise in 2016-17. During that process — which incorporated input from faculty, staff, students, alumni, employers of F&ES graduates, and other supporters — we articulated a vision for the School that captures our commitment to global impact across a broad range of issues and disciplines: knowledge and leadership for a sustainable future. Following the release of the Strategic Plan, we convened a panel of experts to conduct a review of the School. They reached a unanimous conclusion that we change the name of our School to better represent the broad impact we do have and can have. The change was unanimously approved during a meeting of the School’s Board of Permanent Officers on November 8, 2019.
Q: How will this affect degree programs and student services?
A: The School will continue to grant the Master of Environmental Management, Master of Forestry, Master of Environmental Science, and Master of Forest Science; a doctorate degree through the Graduate School; and numerous joint degrees with other schools and programs. Diplomas awarded after June 30, 2020, will bear the name “Yale School of the Environment.” The School of the Environment’s Offices of Student Affairs, Registrar, Community and Inclusion, Academic Affairs, and all other offices will continue to serve all students.
Q: What should I put on my resume?
A: Students graduating before July 1, 2020, will have diplomas issued by the “Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies,” however, after the name becomes effective we suggest that School alumni, regardless of their year of graduation, update their resumes, CVs, and social media profiles to reflect the new name, “Yale School of the Environment.” In the interest of clarity on resumes and CVs, we suggest that you add, in parenthesis, (then Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies). Current students will witness a transition in branding at the School — entering an institution with one name, and leaving the same institution under a new name.
Q: What will happen to the School’s Forestry program?
A: It will be strengthened. To honor and amplify our forest legacy, we are re-establishing “The Forest School” within the broader and more inclusive Yale School of the Environment. The term “School” in this case does not represent a new academic structure. Students, faculty, and staff of The Forest School will be embedded in the Yale School of Environment, but would be represented in governance in a few unique ways (see below).
To be clear, the teaching and study of forests will remain a core part of our mission — and will continue to play a vital role into the future. We will continue to teach all of our students the principles of natural resource management through the innovative research and sustainable practice occurring at our nearly 11,000 acres of actively managed forests, and to provide for them the opportunities to study these forests and those around the world through the myriad of forest-focused centers and programs.
Q: How will this affect the governance of the School? How will it affect the leadership of the Forestry program?
A: As the Yale School of the Environment, faculty governance will continue with the School’s Board of Permanent Officers voting on all appointments. The School will appoint a Senior Associate Dean of Forests who will join the current school leadership team, which includes a Senior Associate Dean of Academics, a Senior Associate Dean of Research, and a Senior Associate Dean of Professional Practice.
Q: How does this change affect the School’s relationship with partners across the Yale University campus?
A: This change reaffirms our increasingly strong and collaborative relationship with scholars across campus who are working to address issues related to the environment. In the past two decades, the School has established joint-degree programs with five professional schools — Yale Law School, Yale School of Management, Yale School of Public Health, Yale School of Architecture, and Yale Divinity School — and joint master’s degrees with the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Yale College. In addition, members of the School community are working on research and engagement partnerships with a growing number of groups and scholars across campus, including through the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies (which includes partners from the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, the Department of Geology & Geophysics, the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, the School of Engineering & Applied Science, and the Department of Anthropology); the Yale School of Nursing; the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy (Yale Law School); and the Yale Center for Business and Environment (Yale School of Management), among many others.
Q: Can we still buy hats, sweatshirts, and other items featuring ‘Yale Forestry’?
A: Yes. We will continue to produce 'Yale Forestry' gear and clothing, in addition to introducing new clothing and other gear for both the Yale School of the Environment and
The Forest School.