Academics

The Sustainable Agriculture major is designed to provide students with an interdisciplinary education emphasizing experiential learning opportunities. Our program builds on a solid foundation of agricultural science, while providing courses and professional development opportunities in the biological, social, and economic elements of sustainability.

Learning Outcomes

Students will demonstrate

  • An ability to frame problems and ask critical questions concerning agricultural sustainability
  • Knowledge of biophysical as well as socioeconomic aspects of agricultural sustainability
  • An expertise in sustainable agriculture that transcends disciplinary boundaries
  • An appreciation of the intellectual history of efforts to improve agricultural sustainability
  • An ability to work interdependently and collaboratively
  • The capacity to address complex agricultural problems by using systems thinking and other approaches
  • An ability to critique different problem-solving methods and approaches, and recognize and display visionary leadership with moral and ethical integrity

Curriculum Requirements

Master of Science (MS)

Degree requirements: 35 credits | Time-to-degree: 3 years or less

  • Agroecosystems Analysis (SUSAG 509) - 4 credits
  • Foundations of Sustainable Agriculture (SUSAG 610) - 3 credits
  • Sustainable Agriculture Colloquium (SUSAG 600) - 4 credits
  • Statistical Methods for Research Workers (STAT 401)* - 3 credits
  • Cross-disciplinary courses - 6 credits
  • Electives - 9 credits
  • Research/Creative Component - 6 credits

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree requirements: 76 credits | Time-to-degree: 5 years or less

  • Agroecosystems Analysis (SUSAG 509) - 4 credits
  • Foundations of Sustainable Agriculture (SUSAG 610) - 3 credits
  • Sustainable Agriculture Colloquium (SUSAG 600) - 6 credits
  • Statistical Methods for Research Workers (STAT 401)* - 3 credits
  • Cross-disciplinary courses - 12 credits
  • Electives - 30 credits
  • Research - 18 credits

*Any 400-level or higher statistics course, including transfer credits, may be applied towards the statistics requirement with prior approval from a student's Program of Study Committee.

Double Degree Program (MCRP/MS)

Students interested in a multi-disciplinary, systems-level approach to agricultural planning may pursue the Master of Community and Regional Planning/Master of Science (MCRP/MS) double degree. Those interested in the double degree program should contact the MCRP/MS Graduate Recruitment Coordinator, Meredith Foley, for additional information.

Degree requirements: 54 credits | Time-to-degree: 2.5 years

  • Agroecosystems Analysis (SUSAG 509) - 4 credits
  • Foundations of Sustainable Agriculture (SUSAG 610) - 3 credits
  • Sustainable Agriculture Colloquium (SUSAG 600) - 4 credits
  • Community Planning Studio I (CRP 532) - 3 credits
  • Planning Theory for Practice (CRP 561) - 3 credits
  • Planning the American Metropolis (CRP 563) - 3 credits
  • Intro to Analytical Methods for Planning (CRP 564) - 3 credits
  • Values and Decision Making (CRP 566) - 3 credits
  • Planning and Development (CRP 568) - 3 credits
  • Land Use and Development Regulation Law (CRP 592) - 3 credits
  • Statistical Methods for Research Workers (STAT 401)* - 3 credits
  • Cross-disciplinary courses from two CD areas - 6 credits
  • Electives - 9 credits
  • Research (CRP 699) - 6 credits

*Any 400-level or higher statistics course, including transfer credits, may be applied towards the statistics requirement with prior approval from a student's Program of Study Committee.

Minor

Minor requirements: 12-13 credits

  • Agroecosystems Analysis (SUSAG 509) - 4 credits OR
  • Foundations of Sustainable Agriculture (SUSAG 610) - 3 credits
  • Sustainable Agriculture Colloquium (SUSAG 600) - 3 credits
  • Courses must be taken from two CD areas - 6 credits

Colloquium

Colloquium is a weekly forum for students, faculty, and other interested members of the Iowa State community to engage with speakers on sustainable agriculture topics. Colloquium provides students an opportunity to learn about the areas that impact the study of agricultural sustainability and engage with multiple stakeholders in the study, business, and practice surrounding sustainable agriculture. Colloquium is student centered and student driven. Speakers are arranged by a student committee in collaboration with the instructor. Speakers include local food producers; ISU faculty and area scientists, ecologists, and environmentalists; associates of agribusiness; and representatives of local and regional food systems.

Cross-Disciplinary Requirement

The cross-disciplinary requirement is intended to enhance a student’s understanding of critical issues in the study of agricultural sustainability, as well as their ability to succeed professionally in interdisciplinary contexts. Prior to taking any cross-disciplinary courses, students will identify their core discipline category – Natural Sciences and Engineering or Human Dimensions – with assistance from their major professor. Students that identify natural sciences and engineering as their core discipline are required to take courses from the Human Dimensions category. Students that identify human dimensions as their core discipline are required to take courses from the Natural Sciences and Engineering category.

Individual Curriculum Plan

The Individual Curriculum Plan (ICP) serves to document the student’s core disciplinary area and cross-disciplinary courses, as well as ensuring that the student understands the curriculum requirements. The ICP form is available on the program website. Students must include the completed ICP as an attachment on their program of study and committee (POSC) form. POSCs that do not have an ICP attached will not be reviewed/approved by the DOGE.