When a student enters Master of Natural Resources (MNR) degree faculty member Dan Marcucci’s classes, he or she enters as a respected colleague and fellow expert.

Marcucci, who teaches four courses for the Online MNR Program  ( Global Issues in Natural Resources – China, Landscape Systems and Strategies, Coastal and Marine Systems, and Urban Water Systems) says his teaching philosophy revolves around recognizing that each student has experiences and expertise to share.

“I consider the people in my courses to be collaborators, rather than students,” said Marcucci. “While it’s my job to set outcomes and curate materials, there are multiple ways that we can reach those outcomes, and I want each of my students to achieve their own personal objectives in the class.”

For example, when Marcucci teaches the Global Issues in Natural Resources course, which includes an International Field Experience (IFE), he asks his students what they want to research while abroad and then they devise a plan to investigate those topics.

I consider the people in my courses to be collaborators, rather than students. ~ Daniel J. Marcucci, PhD

During the Fall 2016 IFE to China, course participants partnered with a Hong Kong nonprofit that was supported by the business community to promote sustainability. Working together, and based on collective interests, they decided on two research projects: building-energy efficiency and transportation policy innovation. The groups organized and conducted their research and then delivered written reports to the nonprofit partner.

“It was intensive, not only because we were working in a foreign context, but also because they had to organize their teams to work on difficult and unfamiliar topics,” said Marcucci. “We read and used the concepts of ‘teaming’ to help them become innovative and flexible work teams.”

Teaming, a concept coined by Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson, promotes the idea that organizations thrive or fail based on how well the small groups within these organizations work, and that more emphasis should be put on leading effective teaming in fluid work environments.

During the IFE, students engaged in optional experiential learning, such as taking a trip to Kadoorie Botanical Gardens, hiking to the top of rice terraces in Ping’an, and boating down the famous Li River. Marcucci will lead the course and IFE again in Fall 2018.

Marucci’s classes are popular not only for his teaching philosophy, but implementation of that philosophy in his course design and delivery. He takes advantage of the Online MNR Program’s format to share diverse multimedia content like songs, photographs, and video. For example, in his Landscape Systems and Strategies course, students are encouraged to listen to a diverse set list of songs about landscape ranging from Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Down in Mary’s Land to Megadeth’s Countdown to Extinction.

student with laptop

“Dr. Marcucci brings a lot of creativity to his classes, and he similarly encourages his students to employ different resources, media, and strategies to enrich their learning experiences,” said MRN student Leigh Sellari. “The course plans are not only thorough, but approach issues from varying perspectives, incorporating scholarly resources, songs, poems, and videos. This makes the courses both extremely educational and a lot of fun.”

Sellari said she decided to pursue the MNR degree after 20 years of practicing law because the program offered a rich curriculum focused on her true passions of land and wildlife conservation, and was well tailored to working professionals. The first classes she took—Coastal and Marine Systems and Landscape Systems and Strategies— were both taught by Marcucci.

“Dr. Marcucci is very giving of his time. He puts a lot of thought into his course plans and directly engages with his students to help foster group discussion,” she said.  “He also met with me one on one for a number of hours to give me feedback on how I could transition to a new career.  His insights were very valuable and helped illuminate for me a path toward a new vocation.”

Marcucci says his goal is to get students to think creatively about the meaning of landscape and place.

“I want to help identify landscape as a holistic phenomenon,” said Marcucci. “In order to manage landscapes sustainably, we have to treat them as integrated systems.”

boat on a river at sunrise

Dr. Dan Marcucci is a faculty member in CLiGS’ MNR Degree Program, as well as practicing planner and researcher with expertise in sustainable landscapes, environmental planning and policy, coastal zone management, climate change adaptation, green infrastructure, and transportation and environmental linkages. Dan has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Harvard University, and a Master of Landscape Architecture and a PhD in City and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

[Thanks to photographer Edwin Poon for making his photo of the Li River in Guilin, China, available through a Creative Commons License (cc by-sa 2.0).]