The University of Minnesota is proud to be a leader in hands-on sustainable agriculture education. A variety of interdisciplinary courses are offered regularly to provide students with exposure to a wide breadth of study as well as an opportunity to dig deep into topics of interest. Undergraduates have opportunities to engage in research through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program as well as internships, clubs, and Cornercopia, the student organic farm.
Undergraduate students interested in sustainable and organic agriculture may be especially interested in the programs listed below, though several other majors in CFANS also offer opportunities to engage in work related to sustainable agriculture.
The Food Systems major teaches students the knowledge and problem-solving skills to address complex challenges and opportunities in food systems. This will be guided by an interest in food and food systems that are sustainable in environmental, economic, and social terms. The major has four tracks, including: Organic and Local Food Production, Agroecology, Consumers and Markets, and Individualized Studies.
Plant Science students learn about conventional large-scale farming, organic agriculture, new sustainable production practices, medicinal plants, greenhouse management, and turf and lawn management. The Plant Science major offers students experiences in the use of plants to produce food, alter environments, restore damaged landscapes, improve human health and well-being, educate people about science and agriculture, improve community environments, and provide recreational and practical benefits to the public.
The Sustainable Agriculture Minor allows students to study the sustainability of agricultural food systems from an integrated perspective, including coursework, practical experience, and community reflection. Courses cover topics such as public policy; agriculture, environment and natural resources; and citizens, science, and society. Each student works with the minor advisor to design an individualized practical experience in some aspect of sustainable agriculture (e.g., an internship or experiential learning activity). In the student-led seminar series, “What’s Up in Sustainable Agriculture” (WUSA) and the senior capstone, students synthesize their learning about sustainability for local, national, and global agricultural food systems.
Students in the Sustainability Studies Minor explore the fundamental ecological, social, ethical, political, and economic forces that influence the long-term quality and viability of human society and the natural environment. The introductory core course provides an overview of various models for understanding sustainability, and uses case studies to demonstrate the challenges of putting sustainability into practice. Additional electives are chosen from courses that explore multiple disciplinary perspectives related to sustainability. Finally, the capstone experience allows students to synthesize and apply their knowledge to real sustainability problems.
Internships provide students meaningful work experience. An internship is a requirement for the undergraduate Food Systems Major but can also often be completed for credit in other programs. Check the MISA page for information about specific food system and organic and sustainable agriculture related internships.
Graduate students interested in sustainable and organic agriculture often chose to enroll in the Applied Plant Sciences degree program. Within the APS program, students tend to select either the agronomy/agroecology or the horticulture specialization.
Other graduate programs that may interest students wanting to work in organic agriculture include: