Volume 47 - Number 4 - 2006 | DOI: 10.5032/jae.2006.04015
This study elicited stakeholder input in the design of a University of California, Davis sustainable agriculture undergraduate major. A web-based, Delphi survey of agricultural professionals was conducted to determine what experiences practitioners thought undergraduate students should have while pursuing this degree. Through consensus, participants determined that students needed experiences in agronomic, environmental, and social aspects of agriculture. It was concluded that these students needed various skill-building experiences—both on-farm and in relationships with practitioners—to understand the agri-food system's complexity. Practitioners suggested pedagogical approaches that challenged the status quo of single-subject, classroom-bound teaching, with holistic and interdisciplinary learning involving discussions, team projects and practical experiences. Practical experience in the field, on-farm research experiences, team projects, and guest lectures by non-faculty were among the suggested pedagogical approaches. In addition, practitioners repeatedly emphasized the need for internships, apprenticeships, student-mentor relationships, networking opportunities, and field trips that introduced students to the diversity of California agriculture. Finally, sustainable agriculture practitioners suggested that students engage in debates and discussions with stakeholders with divergent opinions about agricultural and sustainability issues. This study has implications for curriculum design in land-grant universities seeking to meaningfully engage stakeholders.