September 27-28, 2001

ITEM 112-2007-R0901  Authorization to Create a New Option within the Biological Sciences Degree: Ecology and Evolution Option; Montana State University-Bozeman


THAT: The Board of Regents of Higher Education authorizes Montana State University-Bozeman to create a new option within the Biological Sciences Degree: Ecology and Evolution Option.


EXPLANATION: This option provides training for such fields as conservation biology, population ecology, animal behavior, endangered species management, evolutionary biology, conservation genetics, habitat analysis, and ecosystem management. The curriculum in ecology and evolutionary sciences provides a strong background for students who are interested in (1) a career in research or teaching in ecology and evolution, (2) a position in natural resource management with government, industry, or conservation groups, or (3) an undergraduate background for fields such as environmental law, ecological economics, or public health. The curriculum provides the necessary courses to make a competitive application to graduate school or to obtain a technical position.

The newly formed Ecology Department offers a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biological Sciences that is currently pursued by 348 undergraduates. The degree has the following options: Biology (proposed to be changed in name but not in terms of its broad-base of biology), Biology Teaching, and Fish and Wildlife Management. Although the current offerings cover a broad set of topics from a very broad biology education (Biology Option) to more specific and more applied options (Biology Teaching Option and Fish and Wildlife Management Option), there is an excellent opportunity to provide an option with intermediate breadth in ecology and evolution. The Ecology Department has faculty members with a breadth of expertise in both plant and animal ecology and evolution, and thus is well positioned to teach and advise such an option. Further, the field of ecology and evolution has grown dramatically and employment opportunities are growing for graduates in this area. This degree option will be an excellent counterpart to the existing degree options. It will be narrower in scope and thus, deeper in its coverage than the Biology Option. In contrast, it will be broader in scope and thus, less-detailed than the Fish and Wildlife Management Option. We expect the Ecology and Evolution Option at Montana State University to be well utilized. We anticipate that this option will attract students currently enrolled in other programs at MSU and also new students who want to pursue a career in ecology and evolution. The option will be developed using existing courses and faculty resources.