Over the past six years I’ve been very fortunate to work with Vietnam Forestry University (VFU), which is just east of Hanoi in a town of 50,000. My first visit was in June 2008, when I traveled with two other CSU faculty with support from a WCNR mini-grant to discuss the establishment of a new degree program in Natural Resources Management at VFU. I then applied for and received a grant from the Vietnam Education Foundation to develop and teach two classes at VFU over a five-month period in spring 2009. This longer stay led to a variety of projects and initiatives, including working on a USAID project to quantify payments for environmental services in the central highlands of Vietnam, involvement in a project to measure hillslope erosion in Son La province near Laos, and helping advise on other projects relating to forest runoff, land use, and erosion.
In 2010 VFU received funding from the Ministry of Education to establish a Natural Resources Management major to be taught in English, and the curriculum is directly modeled after CSU’s Natural Resource Management (NRM) degree. The first cohort of about 25 students is now nearing graduation, and the growth in each subsequent cohort means that there are now nearly 200 students in this program. The overall goal is to establish a permanent degree program to provide students with a broad background in natural resources management and sufficient English skills to work with international aid organizations and non-governmental organizations. A second, nearly identical, degree program has been created that is being taught in Vietnamese as well.
As coordinator of the program, it is my privilege to travel to VFU each year to review the curriculum, advise on research projects, and generally help strengthen the institutional capacity of VFU. Specific improvements have included building a new weather station on campus, drilling a groundwater monitoring well for teaching purposes, and providing a variety of equipment for both teaching and graduate research. This partnership has allowed for ongoing faculty visits and international teaching opportunities, and the activities planned through 2017 will lead to even more opportunities for collaborative research and teaching between Vietnam Forestry University and CSU.
To learn more about CSU Vietnamese Educational Cooperative initiatives click here!