Understanding how to make resource management decisions in the face of accelerating, widespread, and complex change and uncertainty is a vital skill for resource professionals in the twenty-first century. This course introduces the importance of understanding change concepts. It emphasizes the skills and processes needed to prioritize and make informed decisions utilizing change concepts, law and policy, and the best available science.
The course reviews laws and policies that require the NPS to effectively manage resources and avoid impairment to NPS natural and cultural resources, even when faced with a changing and uncertain future. Learners consider change caused by direct and indirect influences, and the spatial and temporal characteristics which effect how different influences impact resource conditions. They develop the awareness and vocabulary to recognize, anticipate and communicate about the types, impacts, and rates of change affecting park resources.
Learners also explore factors in addition to science, that are considered in resource management decisions. These include law and policy; funding; the availability and validity of scientific information and data; and risk tolerance. After an overview of the steps in the decision-making process, the course provides a scenario which learners walk through to practice applying what they have learned.
Finally, the course introduces the precautionary principle, adaptive management, structured decision making, risk mitigation, and systems thinking. Links to additional training sources provide learners with tools to develop skills in these areas and become more valuable participants in the decision-making process. Throughout the course, the importance of effective collaboration and communication skills to enhance learners’ contributions in the decision-making process is stressed.