Iowa State University

Iowa State University

2007-2009 Courses and Programs

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Sustainable Agriculture (SusAg)

Graduate Courses |

(Interdepartmental Graduate Major)

Program Leadership: M. Liebman, Chair; M. Duffy, Director of Graduate Education.

The Graduate Faculty
Members in Sustainable Agriculture: Al-Kaisi, Allen, Anderson, Anex, Asbjornsen, Brumm, Butler, Cambardella, Colletti, Cruse, Danielson, de Laplante, Delate, DeWitt, Duffy, Engle, C. Flora, J. Flora, Ford, Gardner, Gibson, Gleason, Goggi, Grudens-Schuck, Hatfield, Helmers, Honeyman, Hurburgh, Jannick, Kaleita, Kanwar, Karlen, Kirschenmann, Kliebenstein, Liebman, Logsdon, Loynachan, Mallarino, Martin, Mazur, Miranowski, Morton, Mullen, Nutter, O'Neal, Owusu, Pease, Potoski, Raman, Sandor, Schulte, Schultz, Steward, Urbatsch, Wells, Wiedenhoeft, Wolf, Xin, Yang.

The graduate program in sustainable agriculture is an interdepartmental major offered through faculty in seventeen participating departments: Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering; Agricultural Education and Studies; Agronomy; Animal Science; Anthropology; Community and Regional Planning; Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology; Economics; Entomology; Food Science and Human Nutrition; Horticulture; Landscape Architecture; Natural Resource Ecology and Management; Philosophy and Religious Studies; Plant Pathology; Political Science; and Sociology. Both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are offered within the major.

Master's students must have a bachelor's degree in one of the life, social, or engineering sciences, or a bachelor's degree plus equivalent experience in these areas. Doctoral students must have a master's degree and either an undergraduate or master's degree in one of the majors in the College of Agriculture or its equivalent.

Graduates of the program will be able to design and manage agricultural systems that increase food security, enhance human communities, and protect environmental quality. To acquire these abilities, students learn agroecological principles, study social relations underlying sustainable farming and food systems, and gain experience with practical techniques of sustainable agriculture. The program seeks to balance depth in disciplinary knowledge and perspectives with broader, system-level thinking. It integrates technical and social sciences through a sequence of team-taught interdisciplinary core courses emphasizing higher-order critical thinking skills and active, collaborative approaches to learning. Students choose an area of emphasis, and additional course work in this and complementary areas is developed in consultation with the student's adviser and Program of Study committee.

Graduates of the program are qualified to work in a variety of settings, including university research, education, extension, agribusiness, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and farming.

Information on applications procedures, research interests of the faculty, and specific requirements of the major may be obtained at or by contacting

Courses for graduate students

SusAg 509. Agroecosystem Analysis. (Cross-listed with AGRON, ANTHR, SOC.) (3-0) Cr. 3. F. Prereq: Senior or above classification. Experiential, interdisciplinary examination of Midwestern agricultural and food systems, emphasizing field visits, with some classroom activities. Focus on understanding multiple elements, perspectives (agronomic, economic, ecological, social, etc), and scales of operation.

SUSAG 515. Integrated Crop and Livestock Production Systems. (Cross-listed with A E, AGRON, AN S.) (3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. F., offered 2007. Prereq: SUSAG 509. Methods to maintain productivity and minimize the negative ecological effects of agricultural systems by understanding nutrient cycles, managing manure and crop residue, and utilizing multispecies interactions. Crop and livestock production within landscapes and watersheds is also considered. Course includes a significant field component, with student teams analyzing Iowa farms.

SUSAG 530. Ecologically Based Pest Management Strategies. (Cross-listed with AGRON, ENT, PL P.) (3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. F., offered 2008. Prereq: SUSAG 509. Durable, least-toxic strategies for managing weeds, pathogens, and insect pests, with emphasis on underlying ecological processes.

SUSAG 546. Organizational Strategies for Diversified Farming Systems. (Cross-listed with AGRON, HORT, SOC.) (3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. S., offered 2008. Prereq: SUSAG 509. Examination of the organization and operation of complex, diversified farming systems using tools and perspectives drawn from ecology, agronomy, and sociology. The course includes a significant field component focused on an Iowa farm.

SUSAG 571. Agroforestry Systems. (Cross-listed with NREM.) (2-3) Cr. 3. F. Prereq: 6 credits in biological science at 300-level or above. Concepts of sustainable land use, agroecological dynamics, and component interactions of agroforestry systems. Agroforestry systems in temperate and tropical regions. Design and evaluation techniques for agroforestry systems. Ecological, socioeconomic and political aspects of agroforestry.

SUSAG 590. Special Topics. Cr. 1-3. Repeatable. F.S.SS. Prereq: Graduate classification, permission of instructor. For students wishing to conduct in-depth study of a particular topic in sustainable agriculture.

SUSAG 599. Creative Component. Cr. arr. F.S.SS. Pre-enrollment contract required. For MS students pursuing the non-thesis degree option. Final product is a creative component.

SusAg 600. Sustainable Agriculture Colloquium. (1-0) Cr. 1. Repeatable. F.S. Weekly seminar for graduate students in the Sustainable Agriculture program.

SusAg 610. Foundations of Sustainable Agriculture. (Cross-listed with Agron, A E, Anthr, Soc). (3-0) Cr. 3. F. Prereq: Graduate classification, permission of instructor. Historical, biophysical, socioeconomic, and ethical dimensions of agricultural sustainability. Strategies for evaluating existing and emerging agricultural systems in terms of the core concepts of sustainability and their theoretical contexts.

SusAg 699. Research. Cr. arr. Repeatable. F.S.SS. MS and PhD thesis and dissertation research.