Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Major (B.A.)

The Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems B.A. provides students with a broad base of knowledge and experiences with modern agriculture and food systems. Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems is an interdisciplinary field comprising the social, physical, and life sciences and beyond. Agriculture is key to solving many of the major challenges facing the world, such as producing food to meet the needs of an ever-growing population while conserving land, water, and soil resources.
Our students get hands-on experience in applied coursework, and we encourage our students to conduct research alongside faculty. Our students become practitioners and entrepreneurs of agricultural and food businesses, researchers and policy-makers at state/federal agencies and non-profit organizations, laboratory technicians, and agricultural educators. Some go on to obtain advanced degrees in the agricultural sciences.

The SAFS B.A. program structure includes FOUR major components: foundation courses, courses in a student-designed emphasis area, program elective courses, and a capstone. You must earn a minimum grade of C- in all courses required for the major.

Foundation courses include 36 credits, which satisfy 5 of the University Discovery requirements.

Student-Designed Emphasis courses include 20 credits that make up a cohesive emphasis or focus area. Courses may be selected from the List of Approved Program Electives, but do not need to be on that list. Each student will define their emphasis area in consultation with their advisor and submit it to the SAFS program committee for approval prior to the start of their 6th semester.

Program Elective courses include 16 credits, chosen from the List of Approved Program Elective courses.

A Capstone experience must take place during the senior year. There are two capstone options: SAFS 733 Advanced Topics in Sustainable Agriculture or ANSC 750 Collaborative Farm Design and Development. Your capstone MAY NOT be counted towards elective or emphasis credits.
Of the Student-Designed Emphasis and Program Elective courses, at least 16 credits (not counting the capstone) must be earned at the 600-700 level
B.A. Foundation Courses36
ANSC 421Introduction to Animal Science4
BIOL 528Applied Biostatistics I4
or EREC 525 Statistical Methods and Applications
CHEM 411Introductory Chemistry for Life Sciences 14
or CHEM 403 General Chemistry I
EREC 411Environmental and Resource Economics Perspectives4
or ECON 402 Principles of Economics (Micro)
NR 501Studio Soils4
SAFS 405Sustainable Agriculture and Food Production4
SAFS 421Introductory Horticulture4
SAFS 502Agroecology4
SAFS 620Food Systems & Community Resilience4
Student-Designed Emphasis Area20
At least 20 credits, proposed using the emphasis area declaration form (see your advisor) at least 1 year prior to planned graduation date.
Program Electives16
Select 16 credits from the approved electives list.
Senior Capstone
Select one from the following:
ANSC 750Collaborative Farm Design and Development4
or SAFS 733 Advanced Topics in Sustainable Agriculture

Some courses (e.g. genetics, microbiology) require CHEM 403 and CHEM 404 as a prerequisite.  If you intend to take these courses, you should take CHEM 403 rather than CHEM 411.

Approved Electives

AAS 421Large Animal Behavior and Handling Techniques2
AAS 423Dairy Selection2
AAS 425Introduction to Dairy Herd Management4
AAS 432Introduction to Forage and Grassland Management3
AAS 434Equipment and Facilities Management3
AAS 439Fundamentals of Animal Health2
ANSC 510Integration of Culture and Agriculture in Ireland: Past, Present, and Future2 or 4
ANSC 546Animal Business Applications4
ANSC 548Agricultural Business Management4
ANSC 600Field Experience1-4
ANSC 602Animal Rights and Societal Issues4
ANSC 603Introduction to Livestock Management4
ANSC 605Poultry Production and Health Management4
ANSC 609Principles of Animal Nutrition4
ANSC 612Genetics of Animals4
ANSC 625Animal Diseases4
ANSC 650Dairy Industry Travel Course1
ANSC 690Livestock and Wildlife in Namibia: Challenges, Opportunities and Geography4
ANSC 698Cooperative for Real Education in Agricultural Management (CREAM)4
ANSC 701Physiology of Reproduction4
ANSC 708Ruminant Nutritional Physiology3
ANSC 710Dairy Nutrition4
ANSC 715Physiology of Lactation4
ANSC 724Reproductive Management and Artificial Insemination4
ANSC 727Advanced Dairy Management I4
ANSC 728Advanced Dairy Management II4
ANSC 750Collaborative Farm Design and Development4
ANSC 795Investigations1-4
BIOL 409Green Life: Introducing the Botanical Sciences0 or 4
BIOL 510Mushrooms, Molds, and Mildews: Introduction to the Fungal Kingdom4
BIOL 541Ecology4
BIOL 566Systematic Botany4
BIOL 701Plant Physiology4
BIOL 704Plant-Microbe Interactions3
BIOL 709Plant Stress Physiology3
BIOL 720Plant-Animal Interactions4
BIOL 752New England Mushrooms: a Field and Lab Exploration4
BMS 503General Microbiology3
BMS 504General Microbiology Laboratory2
CEP 415Community Development Perspectives4
CHE 410Energy and Environment4
ECOG 401Introduction to Ecogastronomy4
EREC #600Field Experience1-4
EREC 601Agribusiness Economics and Management4
EREC 680Agricultural and Food Policy4
FORT 564Arboriculture3
FORT 576Forest Products and Wood Science4
FORT 577Forest Harvesting Systems4
FORT 579Wildland Fire Ecology and Management4
GEN 604Principles of Genetics0 or 4
GEN 772Evolutionary Genetics of Plants4
GEN 774Techniques in Plant Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology4
GEOG 670Climate and Society4
HMGT #403Introduction to Food Management4
HMGT 570International Food and Culture4
MGT 520Topics in Management4
MKTG 530Survey of Marketing4
NR 425Field Dendrology4
NR 435Contemporary Conservation Issues and Environmental Awareness4
NR 504Freshwater Resources4
NR 506Forest Entomology4
NR 527Forest Ecology4
NR 602Natural Resources and Environmental Policy4
NR 643Economics of Forestry4
NR 650Principles of Conservation Biology4
NR 706Soil Ecology4
NR 729Silviculture4
NR 749Forest Inventory and Modeling4
NR 760Geographic Information Systems in Natural Resources4
NR 761Environmental Soil Chemistry4
NR 765Community Ecology4
NR 782Forest Health in a Changing World4
NR 785Systems Thinking for Sustainable Solutions4
NUTR 400Nutrition in Health and Well Being4
NUTR 405Food and Society4
NUTR 550Food Science: Principle and Practice4
NUTR 600Field Experience in Nutrition1-4
NUTR 720Community Nutrition4
NUTR 730From Seed to Sea: Examining Sustainable Food Systems4
NUTR 795Investigations1-4
RMP 724Research, Evaluation, and Data-Driven Decisions4
SAFS 410A Taste of the Tropics4
SAFS 415Introduction to Brewing Art and Science4
SAFS 510Agriculture and Development in the Neotropics4
SAFS 515Technical Brewing4
SAFS 517Advanced Aspects of Brewing4
SAFS #600Field Experience0
SAFS 601Fruit Crop Production4
SAFS 632Urban Agriculture4
SAFS 651Plant Pathology4
SAFS 670Systems Thinking: Land Use Capability and Sustainability in Aotearoa New Zealand4
SAFS 671Agroecology and Sustainable Land Management in Aotearoa New Zealand4
SAFS 672Pathways to Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems in Aotearoa New Zealand4
SAFS 673Agricultural Production and Business Practice in Aotearoa New Zealand4
SAFS 679Food Production Field Experience I4
SAFS 680Food Production Field Experience II4
SAFS 689Greenhouse Management and Operation4
SAFS 733Advanced Topics in Sustainable Agriculture4
SAFS 760Insect Pest Management4
SAFS 795Investigations1-4
SAFS 799Honors Senior Thesis1-4
ZOOL 610Principles of Aquaculture4
MEFB 772Fisheries Biology: Conservation and Management4

University Requirements

In addition to meeting the SAFS major requirements, students must satisfy all University requirements including those that pertain to the minimum number of credits, grade-point average, writing-intensive courses, the Discovery Program, and foreign language (only for B.A. students).

  • Students will demonstrate a working understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of agriculture and food systems and the basic principles underpinning sustainability including: economic viability, environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and the trade-offs between competing metrics of sustainability.
  • Students will demonstrate in-depth knowledge, critical thinking and analysis, and effective written communication in a self-declared area of emphasis within the program.
  • Students will gain an applied understanding of agriculture and food system sustainability by engaging in an experiential education opportunity.
  • Students will be able to independently interpret, evaluate, and engage with research in the agricultural sciences, including its biological, physical, social, and/or economic aspects.