Alexander, J. C., Rucker, K. J., Graham, D. L., Miller, J. D. & Apple, J. K. (2017). Perceptions of agricultural leadership academic programs at 1862 land-grant institutions. Journal of Agricultural Education, 58(4) 65-82. https://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2017.04065
This study characterized perceptions of agricultural leadership programs in colleges of agriculture, food, life, human, or environmental sciences at 1862 land-grant institutions. Objectives included describing the need for programs, studying evolution within the discipline, discussing faculty recommendations for future development, and examining why programs are relevant. Qualitative data were analyzed using thematic analysis, which included open and axial coding. A total of 26 academic agricultural leadership programs were identified, and a telephone interview was completed by 19 agricultural leadership faculty members. Results of the study indicated agricultural leadership was historically founded under the umbrella of agricultural and extension education but also evolved from a need in industry. The discipline evolved because the academic subject matter was broadly appealing to students and, and its growth was also spurred by the popularity of community and rural leadership development programs. To improve agricultural leadership programs, faculty surveyed recommended collaborative efforts across the discipline to establish a unified vision and a national professional organization. Throughout the interviews, themes emerged related to the relevancy of agricultural leadership programs in higher education: (1) The agricultural leadership discipline creates leaders through developing “human capital,” and (2) graduates promote industry growth through their political, policy, and public influence. Future recommendations for research included identifying perceptions of agricultural leadership beyond the scope of 1862 land-grant institutions.