Since 1999, the Environmental Studies Program of the University of Montana has joined with the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary to offer the Transboundary Planning, Policy and Management Initiative. This graduate program offers student research and internship support, shared courses and faculty exchange to explore and develop the knowledge and skills necessary to manage across domestic or international administrative boundaries.
The University of Montana and the University of Calgary are ideally located within a living laboratory for transboundary work. In between the two university campuses lie millions of acres of federal, state, provincial and tribal/first nation lands including the Blood, Salish-Kootenai and Blackfeet Reserves, the Flathead National Forest, the Crowsnest Forest Area, Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks, Akamina-Kishenina Provincial Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex; municipalities like Kalispell, Choteau, Browning, Fernie, Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass; the Waterton gas fields; and working forest and grassland landscapes used for crop agriculture, grazing, forestry and recreation. The demands on these landscapes are diverse and cross numerous ownership/management boundaries. The program takes advantage of the proximity of these examples to put students in the field, meeting those most intimately involved with the issues and application of policy, to develop a deeper understanding of the challenges of transboundary management within the region.
Each academic year, the Transboundary Planning, Policy and Management Initiative brings graduate students from Canada and the United States together for an intensive course that includes a field component. The course travels over a transboundary region, meeting with managers, landowners and citizens that engage management and planning on the ground in the region. The first two courses centered on the themes of large carnivore management and oil and gas development. In the coming year, the course will focus on subdivision, private land use and recreation.
Students and faculty meet in the classroom before and after a several-day field trip. On the field trip students see the region first hand, hear from those working with transboundary issues and spend time discussing US/Canadian approaches. Most importantly, US and Canadian students get to know each other and develop a new appreciation for and understanding of the other culture. Students work in teams of mixed US and Canadian membership, to produce a report that summarizes an issue and discusses the relevant stakeholders and approaches to improved management.
The Transboundary Planning, Policy and Management Inititative seeks to promote student and faculty research aimed at resolving issues relevant to transboundary management and planning. The Initiative participates in research workshops designed to develop relevant research questions through the input of government and non-governmental organizations throughout the region.
Examples of transboundary research/creative projects completed by Environmental Studies graduate students include:
- Impacts of Coal Bed Methane Development in Southeastern British Columbia
- Monitoring Canada Highway 3 Wildlife Approaches
- Animal trails crossing US Highway 2: Mapping and Use
View this PDF to get some ideas for research topics.
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