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Abstract:

In 1996 a questionnaire was distributed to Agronomy alumni and employers to evaluate the undergraduate Agronomy major. In response to survey results and environmental impacts of agriculture, an interdisciplinary major was developed by faculty from the departments of Agronomy, Entomology, Horticulture, and Plant Pathology. The new Agroecology major emphasizes cropping systems and pest management with a systems perspective. Core courses are team taught by faculty from more than one department, and are designed to enhance students' communication skills and teamwork. Two internships are required. Five years after the Agroecology major began, a questionnaire was distributed to Agroecology students and graduates to evaluate the major. Students were attracted to the agricultural, ecological, and science-based systems emphasis. They valued hands-on applied agricultural science courses, advanced technical coursework in multiple disciplines, and most described the internships as very educational. Course requirements that were not overly prescriptive allowed for diverse student interests. An administrative and academic paradigm shift was necessary for faculty and administrators from independent departments. Collaboration and administrative leadership was needed to: (1) improve coordination of course curriculum and schedules, (2) inform students about courses, requirements, and new courses, and (3) inform potential employers and students about the Agroecology major.

 

Keywords:

agroecology majors, surveys

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