Cropps, T. & Esters, L. (2021). Student experiences of a social justice-based agricultural and life science education course at an 1862 land-grant university. Journal of Agricultural Education, 62(3), 138-152.https://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2021.03138
Agricultural and Life Science (AgLS) research tends to focus on the need for a globally competent workforce prepared to work with diverse populations. However, as AgLS education mirrors society, minoritized populations in AgLS are marginalized and othered. Further, AgLS curricula continues to frame agriculture through a white male lens; consequently, current and prospective students note the lack of educational curricula focused on the experiences of marginalized populations. The purpose of this single-case study was to explore students’ learning experiences in a new interdisciplinary social justice-based graduate course focused on historical and contemporary diversity, equity, access, and inclusion (DEAI) issues in AgLS. Findings are organized into four areas: (1) what students enjoyed most in the course, (2) race and representation, (3) students’ perceptions of learning experiences and outcomes, and (4) suggestions for improvement. Students reported most positively on the readings, class discussions, and assignments (i.e., op-ed and social justice initiative). Regarding race and representation, students reported taking the course because they were seeking perspectives outside of the whitestream perspectives they had previously been exposed to, and because Black students were seeking agricultural diversity courses taught by Black faculty. Students reported positively regarding their experiences and learning outcomes. Last, students gave suggestions regarding the final research paper, course topics, and the number of weekly readings required. This study illuminated the need for AgLS educators to better address and embed DEAI in agricultural contexts, decenter whiteness in AgLS curricula, and work harder to diversify their faculty ranks.