Lamm, A. J., Harsh, J., Meyers, C., & Telg, R. W. (2018). Can they relate? Teaching undergraduate students about agricultural and natural resource issues. Journal of Agricultural Education, 59(4), 211-223. https://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2018.04211
Undergraduate students should be able to identify relationships between agricultural and natural resources (ANR) issues to be prepared for ANR sector jobs. The purpose of this study was to determine if communication courses focused on teaching about ANR issues influenced students’ understanding of the relational nature of these issues. A pre/posttest research design was given to undergraduate students enrolled in communication courses at three universities that addressed communicating about nine ANR issues. After descriptive analysis, the data was visualized and density was calculated using social network analysis software. Prior to the course, the strongest perceived relationship was between food safety and food security, followed by water and animal health. After the course, the strongest perceived relationship was between water and food security, followed closely by water and conservation. Visually, water was central to the network of issues, followed by food security, and conservation. The density of the perceived interconnectedness of the issues indicated the respondents did perceive the nine ANR issues were more closely related after taking the course than before. In this case, courses focused on communicating about ANR issues assisted students in being able to convey how these issues are interdependent, preparing them for the workforce.