Sustainable Food and Farming Undergraduate Concentration at the University of Massachusetts


\"MaxThe next generation of students graduating from American public universities will be faced with an unprecedented challenge to redesign nearly every major natural resource based system on the planet.  These women and men will inherit systems of industrial growth that are simultaneously destroying much of nature and endangering both human and non-human species, while offering the highest material standard of living and rate of consumption ever known.  These modern systems of industrial development must be re-imagined and re-created in ways that no longer rely on non-renewable resources, use natural resources at non-sustainable rates, nor cause harm to people or the natural world, today or in the future.

As we begin this task, we must clarify core community values so that science and technology may be guided to serve the needs of present and future generations.  This work will require skills, knowledge and wisdom not currently central to the academic enterprise.  A new form of education for sustainability will be needed to help redesign food and farming, energy production and consumption, and waste handling and reuse systems.  At least one generation will be needed to build learning communities and social structures that support the changes that must occur in our daily lives as we learn to live more sustainably on the planet.

Today’s graduates of most science-based disciplines are well-prepared to address problems and opportunities from both a practical management and a theory-based perspective at the organism, organ, cellular and molecular levels.  Graduates of the Sustainable Food and Farming undergraduate program will also be able to understand complex food and agricultural systems at the population, community, and ecosystem levels.  In this program, studies of social systems complement studies of biophysical systems at these higher levels of complexity.  A new form of academic and experiential education is offered the students of Sustainable Food and Farming

The Sustainable Food and Farming Concentration prepares students to:

  • Grow and locally market grown food and feed crops while eliminating the misuse of natural resources and preventing the accumulation human-made and natural toxic substances.

  • Provide leadership in public policy by building the capacity people living in community to make their own decisions related to land, food and farming, and creating new social structures and alliances which support the quest for sustainability.
  • Grow into excellent educators of sustainable food and farming and related disciplines by encouraging individuals to explore continuous personal growth and service to community through both formal and non-formal education.

Finally, the Sustainable Food and Farming Concentration encourages students to tailor course work to best reflect individual academic interest and career goals. While sustainability education requires a focus on academic interest and career goals, it also prepares a student both for “making a living” as well as for learning to live in a more sustainable way. Sustainability education goes beyond preparation for a career, and prepares humans to live on the planet in a way that doesn’t jeopardize opportunities for others alive today or for future generations.

More information:

A background document on sustainability studies

The list of academic requirements

Some photos of our students

More information on the program