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Strategic Plan 2021-2026

Through strong academics, research and outreach programs, we create solutions that matter and generate economic value across North Carolina and the nation. Discover more about our strategic vision and future impact.

Student in the field - Strategic Plan - College of Natural Resources

The Planet is Our Classroom

Our work at the College of Natural Resources has never been as relevant as it is today. Our communities are waking up to the immense realities of the local and global challenges we all face at the intersection of our environments and society here in North Carolina, nationally, and around the world.

The issues our work touches are broad and complex. From the significant rise in forest fires, deforestation, and flooding, to the growing challenges of air and water pollution; from the rapid depletion of natural resources to the need for accelerated innovation to sustainably engineer bio-based materials; from social and environmental injustice to the profound need for healthy and inclusive parks and recreation infrastructure, as well as recreation services that contribute to healthier people and communities, and so much more.

Our college’s relevance lives in the diverse ways in which we act on these challenges and work collectively to foster healthy ecosystems and communities through our work.

This is why, at this powerful juncture in our college’s history and in the trajectory of these issues, we are ready to launch a new strategy that will take our longstanding commitment to the people and natural resources of North Carolina, our nation, and the world to the next level.

Our future-focused strategy is all about taking our work more deliberately out into the world around us to learn from and contribute to the critical challenges impacting our environment and our society. This strategy will help us deepen our connection with our environment and our communities so we can help to create a world in which everyone is welcomed and empowered to explore, protect, and enjoy the full diversity of our environment and our communities while building justice and sustainability for all.


The College of Natural Resources aspires to build a world in which everyone is welcomed and empowered to explore, protect, and enjoy the full diversity of our environment and our communities, while building justice and sustainability for all.

Student in the field - Strategic Plan - College of Natural Resources


We deliver inclusive and innovative education, research, engagement, and partnerships that empower our students and stakeholders to better our planet, communities, industries, economy and the world.

Students in the field - Strategic Plan - College of Natural Resources
Students in Dr. Steph Jeffries’ (at far left) dendrology class work through a plant identification exercise. Photo by Becky Kirkland.


+ Equity and Inclusion
+ Community
+ Collaboration
+ Innovation
+ Sustainability

Faculty and student in the paper making area - Strategic Plan - College of Natural Resources

Strategic Priorities

  • Collaborate now to solve urgent challenges at the intersection of the environment, economy and society
    • Let’s empower collaborative research, learning, engagement, and sharing that contribute to critical solutions toward sustainable environments, and healthy, prosperous communities.
  • Engage with our natural environments, industries, and communities as the world’s best classrooms, laboratories and platforms
    • Let’s nurture spaces and places where industry, community, and academia can come together to innovate a sustainable, inclusive, and prosperous future for all.
  • Take the bold actions to build genuinely equitable and inclusive environments
    • Let’s center the need for justice, equity and inclusion in all our work, and break down any barriers in learning, research, and knowledge-sharing.
McIntire Stennis - Climate Adaptive Management for Forest Ecosystem Services: An Assessment of Future Forests - College of Natural Resources at NC State

Call to Action:
Collaborate now to build a sustainable and equitable future

About This Plan

This Strategic Plan was developed throughout late 2020 and early 2021 against the backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic, widespread protests centered around social injustice, and the 2020 Presidential election.

All of our staff, faculty and graduate students from across the College of Natural Resources at NC State University were invited to take part in designing the plan as part of a participatory and equitable strategy design process called a Tidal Equality Wave®.

This new approach for our college empowered us to co-design our vision, values, and strategic priorities, brought new and diverse voices and perspectives to our strategy table, and helped us shape a plan that will have relevance and resonance for years to come.

Most organizations and institutions around the world faced unprecedented challenges in 2020 and 2021. For all of us at the College of Natural Resources, it was an exceptionally challenging time emotionally, physically, and in terms of the creativity and tenacity it took to continue to pursue our work and add value.

Despite these realities, just over 200 college community members – including a diversity of graduate students, staff, faculty, volunteers, and alumni – made time to contribute their voices and best ideas to the design of this Strategic Plan, and also contributed ideas that are now contained in our aligned Culture Charter.

Download the full plan