Sustainable Agriculture Undergraduate Degree Programs: A Land-Grant University Mission


  • Krista L. Jacobsen University of Kentucky
  • Kim L. Niewolny Virginia Tech
  • Michelle S. Schroeder-Moreno North Carolina State University
  • Mark Van Horn University of California, Davis
  • Alison H. Harmon Montana State University
  • Yolanda H. Chen Fanslow University of Vermont
  • Mark A. Williams University of Kentucky
  • Damian Parr University of California, Davis



Experiential Education, Higher Education Challenge Grant, Interdisciplinary Education, Land-grant Universities, Sustainable Agriculture Education


There has been considerable growth in the number undergraduate degree programs in sustainable agriculture (SA) in universities and colleges across the country in the past 25 years. As a subset of this national trend, land-grant universities (LGUs) are emerging as catalysts in innovative SA program development, in part due to the LGU tripartite mission of education, extension, and research. This mission compels LGUs to develop undergraduate degree offerings to engage student, faculty, and community stakeholders who are increasingly interested in SA. In this article, which is an outcome of a gathering of faculty, staff and students from SA programs at LGUs at a workshop prior to the 4th National Sustainable Agriculture Education Association Conference in August 2011, we discuss the justification for SA programming at LGUs, the emergence of SA major and minor degrees at 11 LGUs to date, the common successes and challenges of current SA programs, strategies for improving existing SA programming, and systematic approaches for expanding SA education impact across institutional lines. We also introduce several additional topic-based articles that resulted from workshop dialogue that appear in this issue of the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, including civic engagement efforts in SA education through community-university partnerships, a critical documentation of the implicit inclusion of values into SA education, and efforts to internationalize SA curriculum.


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Author Biographies

Krista L. Jacobsen, University of Kentucky

Assistant Professor, Department of Horticulture, University of Kentucky.

Kim L. Niewolny, Virginia Tech

Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Extension Education, Virginia Tech.

Michelle S. Schroeder-Moreno, North Carolina State University

Associate Professor, Department of Crop Science, North Carolina State University.

Mark Van Horn, University of California, Davis

Director, Agricultural Sustainability Institute, University of California, Davis.

Alison H. Harmon, Montana State University

Professor, College of Education, Health & Human Development, Montana State University.

Yolanda H. Chen Fanslow, University of Vermont

Associate Professor, Department of Plant and Soil Science, University of Vermont.

Mark A. Williams, University of Kentucky

Professor, Department of Horticulture, University of Kentucky.

Damian Parr, University of California, Davis

Research & Education Coordinator, Lecturer, Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, Environmental Studies Department, University of California, Davis.



How to Cite

Jacobsen, K. L., Niewolny, K. L., Schroeder-Moreno, M. S., Van Horn, M., Harmon, A. H., Chen Fanslow, Y. H., Williams, M. A., & Parr, D. (2012). Sustainable Agriculture Undergraduate Degree Programs: A Land-Grant University Mission. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 2(3), 13–26.



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