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Gender Curricula Forestry

Four universities in Germany offer degrees in forestry: Freiburg i. Br., Tharandt/Dresden, Göttingen and Munich/Weihenstephan

Course: Forestry
Group of courses: Agricultural, Forestry and Nutritional Studies

Course objectives:

The content of forestry degrees unites a broad range of individual disciplines from the natural and technical sciences and the economics and social science sector. Forestry degrees are structured into the areas of Ecology, Production & Use and Society & Economy. Degrees have a practical and application-based focus.

The changed and increased demands made by society on forests and their use, protection and relaxation in forest areas have resulted in the technocratic forest management perspective in research and teaching increasingly being replaced by the perspective of sustainable ecosystem management and its social, political and legal parameters.

The aim of integrating gender aspects into forestry degrees should be to teach students the basic theories and methods of gender studies and to familiarise them with empirical findings from this area. Students should be able to recognise the importance of the category of gender in the individual subject areas (Ecology, Production & Use, Society & Economy) of their degrees, and to question content on this basis. Graduates in the "green sector" should be capable of viewing the human use and protection of the forest ecosystem in an economical, social and socioeconomical manner from a gender-sensitive perspective. They should also be able to recognise and analyse problems and develop possible solutions.

The subject-specific targets for women's and gender studies should be:

  • Teaching basic methods and theories of gender studies
  • Teaching empirical knowledge on gender relations in the "green sector"*
  • Teaching sensitivity for the perception of gender-specific issues in forestry and the environmental sciences

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Teaching content/subject-specific gender studies content:

The central objective of integrating gender studies into degree courses should be to illustrate the significance of the category of gender in relation to the demands placed on the forest ecosystem (sustainable use, protective functions and relaxation).

Alongside ecological aspects, the degree also deals with the basic socioeconomic aspects of the use and protection of forest ecosystems, and thus implicitly with issues of women's and gender studies. This involves the following questions:

  • Are there gender-specific types of use of forest, wood and non-wood products?
  • How are access, use and control of natural resources distributed?
  • Which power and domination structures in forest use are perpetuated or changed by gendered division of labour?
  • What effects do aspects of modernisation/globalisation have on gendered division of labour in forest use and what consequences do they have for gender relations?

Gender aspects are relevant to the following three subject areas within the degree course:

  • Theory of gender studies (not forest-specific)
  • Empirical research in women's and gender studies
  • Studies on university and professional practice.

The empirical studies are related to forest and rural space as a resource and place to live, which has been experienced and used differently by women and men over the course of the centuries. The following subjects could be addressed in this area:

  • Living and working situations, scope and identity of women and men in forests and rural regions; access, use and control of natural resources; effects of modernisation on gendered division of labour in forest use; significance of women for subsistence production; new technologies of forestry and wood production and their consequences for gender relations; consumption of wood and other forest products from a gender-specific perspective
  • Organisation and representation of rural and forestry interests (e.g. the FAO, World Bank, ministries, forestry associations, rural women's associations)
  • Discussion of the various paradigms of forestry from the gender perspective, including knowledge management and concepts of knowledge; women as pioneering thinkers and inspiration for new developments and rethinking in research, teaching and practice.

A further focal point of subject-specific content would be academic and professional practice in the "green sector":

  • On an institutional level, students can study the inclusion and exclusion of women in academic degrees, research institutions and teaching institutions. By learning about empirical findings on gender-specific access requirements, working conditions and organisational cultures, students increase their awareness of the differing effects on men and women. Students can also discuss gender mainstreaming programmes and gender assessments for the forestry universities, international organisations, ministries and administrative institutions.
  • In the biographical respect, students can analyse social background, routes to the profession/academia, career biographies, successes and failures, networks, and the coordination of family and working life from the gender perspective.

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Integration of gender studies content into the curriculum:

Essentially, gender aspects can be taken into account in all courses in forestry degrees. However, most lecturers are unlikely to be able to assess or recognise the significance of the category of gender. We therefore do not assume that gender aspects will be integrated into a relevant number of degree courses in the near future.

As an interim solution, we recommend introducing gender modules/seminars on women's and gender studies and initiating relevant final theses and work placements. Collaboration with economics, history and social science departments/working groups may be useful for formal assignments.

Potential modules/seminars:

  • Introduction to women's and gender studies
  • Gender relations in forestry; basic theories and empirical findings
  • Gender aspects in relation to biodiversity and sustainability
  • Gender and consumption
  • Gender and education for sustainable development
  • The category of gender in rural development
  • Gender in conservation
  • Gender in forest and environmental policy
  • Research in forestry and environmental science from a gender perspective

Existing and previous courses on the subject of women's and gender studies include:

  • Introduction to social science methodologies, using the example of "Women's Work in Forestry", Prof. Dr. S. Lewark (Institute of Forest Utilization and Work Science)
  • "Forestmen in the Deep Dark Wood" the self-perception and external image of male and female foresters (Advanced sociology seminar, also for forestry students, Till Westermayer M. A. (Institute of Sociology) and Dr. Maria Hehn (Institute of Forest Utilization and Work Science)
  • "Women, Work and Global Societal Change" block course within the module "Global Societal Change" in the MSc Environmental Governance at the Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Sciences at the University of Freiburg (Institute of Forest Utilization and Work Science [Prof. Lewark, Dr. Hehn; Westermayer M. A.], Institute of Forest Economy, Institute of Cultural Geography)
  • Gender roles in environmental management (blended e-learning course). See:

In addition, more work placements outside the classic forestry sector should be initiated to enable students to gain their own experiences of gender-specific differences between the organisational cultures of forestry and non-forestry institutions. In this context, students can experience and address common and differing national and cultural factors regarding gender relations in various regions of the world.

In Freiburg, the existing cooperation between the Institute of Forest Utilization and Work Science (Prof. Dr. S. Lewark) and the Centre for Anthropology and Gender Studies at the University of Freiburg (ZAG) should be stepped up. The inter- and cross-disciplinary degree in Gender Studies taught there offers numerous opportunities for collaboration.

We must point out that students are increasingly writing papers, Diplom and Master's theses on diverse aspects of women's and gender studies whereby the subject matter is mainly chosen on a fairly random basis.

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Degree Stage:

The above content should be offered as obligatory courses at the basic degree level (BSc). At the Master's level, a choice of further modules and seminars could be offered. We recommend that Master's degrees offer in-depth modules building on the basic content