Agricultural Sustainability, a New Major at UC Davis

PRESS RELEASE: The University of California (UC), Davis, this fall will launch a new undergraduate major focused on agricultural sustainability. The Bachelor of Science degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems uniquely integrates several subjects to provide students with a thorough understanding of the many issues facing modern farming and food systems, including production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste management. “This is an exciting addition to the college that reflects a change in how we think about food and agriculture,” said Neal Van Alfen, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Students will gain a broad perspective of what it takes to put dinner on the table in an era of greater demand and fewer resources.” Students will focus on the social, economic and environmental aspects of agriculture and food — from farm to table and beyond. The program is designed to help students obtain a diversity of knowledge and skills, both in the classroom and through personal experiences on and off campus. Nine faculty members from eight departments are affiliated with the new degree program.

“The skills and knowledge gained through this interdisciplinary curriculum will prepare students to become 21st-century leaders in agriculture and food systems,” said Professor Thomas Tomich, the major adviser for the program and director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis.

The major is new, but UC Davis has been covering the subject in field- and classroom-based interdisciplinary learning opportunities at the Student Farm for more than 35 years, said Mark Van Horn, the Student Farm director who will teach a core course in the major.

“Learning through doing and reflection adds a valuable dimension to students’ education because it helps them see the connections between theory and practice in the real world,” Van Horn said.

Continuing students have already begun transferring into the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems major. Applications for freshmen and transfer students to enter the major will be available in November.

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