Agricultural and natural resource managers face complex problems that involve thinking across multiple disciplines, particularly in North America where professionals often work in multi-use landscapes containing both private and public lands. Here we describe a multidisciplinary, conflict-based experiential learning course we developed to prepare students to address complex issues facing future managers working at the public-private land interface. Using both pre- and post-course surveys and qualitative analysis of reflective essays, we observed that following our course students (1) were more aware of conservation needs and more sensitive to perspectives of various stakeholder groups concerning those needs, (2) embraced complexity and multidisciplinary thinking needed to address management challenges at the public-private land interface, and (3) showed appreciation of and became more comfortable discussing controversial issues with stakeholders and the general public. Students also became more willing to travel, work independently, and take a leading role in peer groups. By embedding students in a charged learning environment with multiple competing perspectives, our course has been able to build a more knowledgeable, empathetic and confident cohort of future employees who are better prepared to address complex issues facing agricultural and natural resource managers working at the public-private land interface.
Keywords: Multidiciplinary, Experiental, Conflict-based, public land, private land