Esteemed professor, author and researcher recognized for championing natural and cultural heritage

November 5, 2021

Marc J. Stern, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation at Virginia Tech, was recently honored with the William C. Everhart Award by the Clemson University Institute for Parks in recognition of sustained achievements that provide creative insights and that foster an appreciation of our natural and cultural heritage.

The Institute presents the annual awards program, which is named for George B. Hartzog Jr., the seventh director of the National Park Service, to showcase leading figures in the field of conservation. The awards are named for visionary leaders who make significant contributions to the management of parks and preservation of our natural, historical and cultural heritage.

In addition to his role as professor, Stern is a senior fellow of the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability, scholar of the Institute for Parks, and serves as co-editor in chief for the Journal of Interpretation Research and associate editor for Society and Natural Resources. He is a prolific researcher and author whose contributions have impacted environmental initiatives, relationships between protected areas and local communities, natural resource planning processes, climate adaptation efforts and other elements of environmental governance.

“Marc has dedicated his career to research that improves human processes and equips leaders with the information and skills they need to manage and maintain protected areas,” said Bob Powell, director of Clemson University’s Institute for Parks. “His extensive research has led to notable changes in environmental education, interpretation and training across local and national agencies – and our lands are better for it.”

His research was the basis for a major revision to the U.S. Forest Service’s approach to training for planning processes associated with the National Environmental Policy and for revisions to the National Park Service’s approach to environmental education and interpretation.

Stern’s teaching and scholarship focus broadly on the human dimensions of natural resource management, environmental education and sustainability. He teaches courses in environmental education and interpretation at the undergraduate level and social science research methods and sustainability at the graduate level.

His recent book, Social Science Theory for Environmental Sustainability: A Practical Guide, published by Oxford University Press, translates decades of advancements in social science theory for everyday practitioners working in the environmental field.  His work on trust development and other theoretical advancements have been well-recognized in the field and were recently the focus of a keynote presentation for the International Association for Society and Natural Resources.

His current work focuses on improving environmental education and interpretation for diverse audiences, advancing collaborative processes associated with climate adaptation and enhancing planning processes for interpretation across the National Park Service.


The Clemson University Institute for Parks (CUIP) provides research, education, training, and outreach that enhances the management of the world’s parks and protected areas. It accomplishes this by providing park and protected area managers with innovative research to support science-based decision-making; and by developing current and future leaders in the park movement by providing interdisciplinary and transformative education and training programs. The Institute currently consists of 35 Fellows and 10 Scholars working on park-related research.

Visit the CUIP website for more information about the George B. Hartzog, Jr. Environmental Awards program and its recipients.