UC Davis Launches Sustainable Ag Major

Prospective UC Davis students can apply for the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems bachelor’s program in November.

by Dani Yokhna

Woman looking at sprouted plants in greenhouse
Courtesy David Oldfield/Digital Vision
Students who major in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems at UC Davis will learn about topics, such as food production, through experiences on and off campus.

The University of California, Davis, will launch an undergraduate major this fall focused on agricultural sustainability.

The Bachelor of Science degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems integrates several subjects to provide students with a thorough understanding of the many issues facing modern farming and food systems, including production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste management.

“This is an exciting addition to the college that reflects a change in how we think about food and agriculture,” says Neal Van Alfen, dean of UC Davis’ College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. “Students will gain a broad perspective of what it takes to put dinner on the table in an era of greater demand and fewer resources.”

The classes will focus on the social, economic and environmental aspects of agriculture and food—from farm to table and beyond. The degree program is designed to help students obtain a diversity of knowledge and skills, both in the classroom and through personal experiences on and off campus. 

Nine faculty members from eight departments are affiliated with the degree program.

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“The skills and knowledge gained through this interdisciplinary curriculum will prepare students to become 21st century leaders in agriculture and food systems,” says professor Thomas Tomich, adviser for the program and director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis.

Although the major is new, UC Davis has been covering agriculture and food systems in field- and classroom-based interdisciplinary learning opportunities at the Student Farm for more than 35 years, says Mark Van Horn, the Student Farm director who will teach a core course in the new major.

“Learning through doing and reflection adds a valuable dimension to students’ education because it helps them see the connections between theory and practice in the real world,” Van Horn says.

Continuing students have already begun transferring into the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems major. Applications for freshmen and transfer students to enter the major will be available in November.

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