Stofer, K. A., & Newberry, III, M. G. (2017). When defining agriculture and science, explicit is not a bad word. Journal of Agricultural Education, 58(1), 131-150. 


Agriscience is an emerging field at the intersection of recently separate fields of agriculture and science. For meaningful communication with and engagement of public audiences around agriscience, researchers, educators, and the public must have a consensus definition. We used personal meaning mapping to collect public audience understandings of the individual terms agriculture and science to find spontaneous overlap. We qualitatively coded them and compared them to each other. Very few participants explicitly included “agriculture” on science maps and vice versa. However, many maps included terms that related to the other topic; for example, on agriculture maps, many participants included “biology.” Agriculture maps used more terms related to tangible products, while science maps contained more terms related to intangible results and specific disciplinary areas. We found some overlap of categories with both sets of standards but in differing amounts, reflecting the career emphasis of agricultural programs. The lack of consensus definitions of agriculture and science confound our efforts to support both public engagement with agriscience and literacy efforts in both science education and agricultural education. This research could form the basis for larger, broader quantitative public surveys and comparisons across geographic areas.

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