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Davis, California

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

UC Davis approves sustainable agriculture major

UC Davis approved a new major called sustainable agriculture and food systems for the upcoming Fall quarter.

The student-inspired major, in the college of agricultural and environmental science, will encompass all sustainable skills needed to develop work and food in a more ecological and socially viable manner for farmers, officials said.

“There is a rapidly growing need for graduates that are well prepared to deal with the different challenges in agriculture,” said Mark Van Horn, director of the plant sciences department. “The new major demonstrates a broad understanding of agriculture and its diverse roles in society and its new opportunities.”

The university approved of the major in June, however, the core courses had already been offered, starting in the 2008-09 school year.

The major will offer introductory courses, such as food systems (CRD 20), which will be offered this Fall quarter. There are no prerequisites required for this course.

“The goal is to not train people to go into one particular area,” Van Horn said. “There will be students who go into other industries besides farming with this major.”

The newly developed program educates students about how agriculture and food systems can adapt to changes in society, Van Horn said.

“The major is interdisciplinary, but the main focus is agriculture and sustainability, and that excites me,” said Kase Wheatley, a junior who recently switched to the new major. “Other agriculture majors push for more mechanized forms of agriculture, but the sustainable agriculture and food systems major shows students how to work with nature and to learn about the biological process.”

The major incorporates elements of broad interdisciplinary approach and integrated understanding of entire food systems. There is also a strong emphasis on student skill building for after graduation, Van Horn said.

“It incorporates experiential education outside of the lecture halls,” Wheatley said. “It utilizes other classes to get experience and education that lacks in other majors.”

The major was designed by a team of faculty and students who came from a wide range of agriculture departments, Van Horn said.

Once students finish their preparatory lower division courses, they are given three tracks to continue on. Students can focus on food and society, agriculture and ecology, or economics and policies.

Students will also be expected to participate in 12 units of internships, which are developed for the students. Most internships need to be done off campus.

“Through critical thinking, I am learning to question the systems on whether it is the sustainable path, as well as skill building on how to be a better citizen,” Wheatley said.

Students can now transfer into the new major. Any student can also begin taking courses designed for the major.

ALICIA KINDRED can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


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