Dear SEFS community:

As we enter the final weeks of Spring Quarter 2021, and we look forward to longer days and the summer field season, we are grateful for the prospect of greater freedom of movement and more in-person learning and research in the future. This gives some degree of hope while we continue to work within the constraints of the online teaching and learning environment, a still-reduced set of social interactions, and extra caregiving demands for some.

The University plans a safe return to in-person instruction and activities in Autumn 2021. We anticipate that staff guidelines for return to work will remain in Phase 3 or less through Sept. 30; current information is available here. Key to making progress in all of this is vaccination; the University will require students to be vaccinated for the next academic year and expects everyone else in the UW community who can get vaccinated to do so.

While our activities and events continue to be delivered online, an advantage of this format is that you can revisit offerings in our seminar series if you were unable to attend live. Highlights so far this quarter include presentations from Ruth DeFries of Columbia, Aerin Jacob of Yellowstone to Yukon, USFS Chief and SEFS alumna Vicki Christiansen, and our Sustaining our World Lecturer Beronda L. Montgomery of Michigan State. The full schedule, including those upcoming, is here.

I want to extend my gratitude to our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee and other members of the student body, staff, and faculty who have participated in our collective efforts to advance our commitments to be a more diverse and inclusive school, some of which are described in this story from the College of the Environment. The committee led us through a community-engaged process for, and the faculty have adopted, an aspirational and actionable plan for steps we can continue to take to live into these goals.

Please join us as we recognize and celebrate the hard work of all of us at our end-of-the-year celebration, with awards selected to recognize significant contributions. We will gather on Zoom at 4 p.m. on May 20. Our graduation ceremony, with keynote speaker and WA State Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz, will also be on Zoombeginning at 10 a.m. on June 11.

As we look forward to re-engaging with each other in person and in the various communities with which we interact, it is worth remembering why we do what we do. Our work in understanding and analyzing complex interactions between ecosystems, people, and technology is critical to building more sustainable and inclusive environments in the face of ever changing social and environmental contexts. The importance of this work becomes more and more evident every day. I am proud to be engaged in it with you.

Dan Brown, Director
School of Environmental & Forest Sciences