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FREC 3524: Environmental Interpretation

This course introduces students to interpretation theory and techniques, as relevant to natural resource management. Students will: explore communications and social psychological theories as they relate to environmental and cultural interpretation; plan and carry out effective environmental interpretation programs; discuss the role of interpretation in educating the public, enhancing visitor experience, building constituencies for natural resource management, promoting more sustainable use of natural resources, and enhancing the management of effectiveness of protected areas; evaluate the quality of environmental interpretation and other forms of persuasive communication on environmental issues; and critically and constructively evaluate written brochures, interpretive exhibits, self-guided trails, interpretive talks, and other interpretive materials.

Why take it?

Effective communication is essential to the preservation and conservation of natural resources and is widely recognized as a critical skill in a wide range of professions. This course covers key principles and provides direct practice in developing multiple forms of effective communication and environmental themes. Students complete multiple projects, including at least one group project for a real-world client. This helps them to prepare for their careers through navigating group challenges and interacting with clients to develop meaningful products.


Prerequisite: Junior standing.

This course fulfills Pathways requirements in Advanced Discourse and Intercultural and Global Awareness.

"Environmental problems are first and foremost people problems. In this course we delve into communication strategies to set us on a path toward involving people in their solution.”
– Dr. Marc Stern

“We also examine how to make visits to natural and cultural sites more meaningful for the visitor. Not only do we strive to communicate important messages of our own, but we also aim to enrich the lives of our audiences in ways that are meaningful to them.”
– Dr. Marc Stern

“This has been one of my favorite classes at Virginia Tech.”

“Dr. Stern is a model all professors should strive for. All work directly related to the class and could be used in a practical setting…I have used this class on my resume and mention it in interviews frequently…This class is the best kept secret in CNRE.”

“Overall awesome class and professor!”