A Forester's Guide to Striking a Balance Between Rules and Relationships


Microcourse information

This virtual microcourse – curated by SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Dr. Marianne Patinelli-Dubay – is an introduction to thinking about forest management through the lenses of rational and relational approaches. This microcourse will begin with a focus on applying rational thought to moral and ethical problems including the perennial tension between what we can do and what we should do, and how to transform a situation from what it is into what it ought to be.  As a counterpoint to this approach, we will take up an ethic of care to consider the impact of NRM decisions on the relational landscape of the situation including our own sympathies, responsibilities and loyalties as well as those of stakeholders and constituencies.

Is this microcourse for you?

This microcourse is designed for foresters and natural resource professionals seeking an expanded exploration of professional ethics with forestry and natural resources relevant applications.

Open registration

Registration remains open through September 19, 2024, 11:59 pm ET.


$34 for SAF Members

$54 for Non-members

Join SAF today to save $20 on your microcourse registration and to take advantage of SAF's growing member benefits including here on ForestEd.

Note: Pricing has been reduced to accommodate the purchase of corresponding required microcourse materials through an external partner.

Start date

Microcourse content will be accessible starting September 19, 2023.

Access Period

Microcourse access will remain open through September 19, 2024 at 11:59 pm ET. 

Required Microcourse Materials

To complete this microcourse, purchasing the following book is required if you don't already have access to it:
Practical Ethics: A Field Guide for Resource Managers, by Marianne Patinelli-Dubay, Kendall Hunt Publishing, 2023. Purchase the book here!   

Digital e-book access instructions are accessible within the Supporting Resources Tab above. Remember your e-book login for your unique access.

PLEASE NOTE: The digital e-book has a limited period of access - 180 days - and your unique login access. The printed hard copy has no access limit.

Microcourse pace

This microcourse is self-paced with an estimated completion time of 1.5 hours.

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of this microcourse, you will be able to:

1. Apply techniques to work through an ethically weighted situation.

2. Explain the "human dimensions" of the provided situation.

3. Identify the relational dynamics of the provided situation.

4. Analyze the hierarchy embedded within the provided management decision.


Successful completion of the microcourse is measured by the completion of all learning components. This includes viewing the presentation, reading the assigned chapters, reviewing the case study, and then downloading and completing a series of self-guided inquiries in worksheet form. Each of the two worksheets are tied to the scenario provided in the case study. These worksheets are yours to keep.

Microcourse Evaluation

Participant feedback is appreciated to help the microcourse curators and subject matter experts continually improve the microcourse for future participants.


Upon successful completion of this microcourse, you will earn 1.5 CFEs in Category 1. CFEs will automatically be added to your CFE record located on www.eforester.org.


Upon successful completion of this microcourse and microcourse evaluation, participants may download and print a certificate verifying completion of the microcourse and earning CFEs. CFEs will be uploaded to participant CFE records by the end of the day (11:59 pm ET) upon microcourse completion.

Get Started or Return to Place in Microcourse

Once you are registered for the microcourse, access this microcourse within your MY DASHBOARD. You can pause at any point during the microcourse, and you can return right where you last left off. Simply select where you last left off and then keep on working your way through the microcourse. Connect with SAF if you have any access questions.

Need Help?

For ForestEd questions, visit FAQs or email ForestEdSupport@safnet.org. For questions about this microcourse's content email Marianne Patinelli-Dubay at mpatinelli@esf.edu. For technical assistance, go to help.commpartners.com for self troubleshooting and/or live chat, or you can email ForestEdSupport@safnet.org.


This is a non-refundable item. Please view FAQs for additional information.


Presentation: A Forester's Guide to Striking a Balance Between Rules and Relationships
Open to view video.  |  25 minutes
Open to view video.  |  25 minutes First, watch this presentation introducing you to the topics within chapters 6 and 7 of the required reading for this course, Practical Ethics: A Field Guide for Resource Managers. Following completion of this presentation, proceed to read the corresponding chapters.
Required Reading: Chapters 6 and 7 in Practical Ethics: A Field Guide for Resource Managers
Select the "Access E-Book" button to begin.
Select the "Access E-Book" button to begin. Read chapter 6 and chapter 7 of 'Practical Ethics: A Field Guide for Resource Managers' to better equip yourself for the upcoming case study. This link will take you to RedShelf to access your digital e-book. Proceed to VitalSource or your hard copy book instead as it may apply. Forgot to purchase the book? Go to Overview Tab to access instructions to purchase required reading. Once you complete your reading, select 'Access e-book' if not using RedShelf platform to progress to Reading Checkpoint. Remember this reading is required to complete the case study.
Reading Checkpoint
1 Question  |  Unlimited attempts  |  1/1 points to pass
1 Question  |  Unlimited attempts  |  1/1 points to pass Please complete this quiz to proceed in the course.
Case Study: Applying a Relational Approach
Case Study: Halifax
Open to download resource.
Open to download resource. Download and use this case study to complete the two self-guided worksheet exercises below.
Exercise One: Preliminary Questions
Open to download resource.
Open to download resource. Having read the case study, answer the following questions to help you think about the situation presented. As you enter into the decision-making process, consider how ethical approaches may be drawn out. It is recommended that you print out this PDF to fill it out. These approaches will be applied in Exercise Two: A Relational Approach
Exercise Two: A Relational Approach
Open to download resource.
Open to download resource. Following the completion of Exercise One: Preliminary Questions, complete this exercise. It is designed to draw out the ethical features associated with a Relational Approach embedded in this microcourse’s "Halifax" case study. It is recommended that you print out this PDF to fill it out.
Evaluation and CFEs
6 Questions
6 Questions Please complete this course evaluation to help inform continuous improvements to this short course and future programming.
CFEs & Certificate
1.50 CAT1 credits  |  Certificate available
1.50 CAT1 credits  |  Certificate available Download, save and print for your records. Your CFEs will be posted to your SAF CFE record today.