University of Wisconsin–Madison

Goals and Assessment

Our program aims to train practitioners and researchers in a broadened vision of the possibilities of agriculture, including the pursuit of underexploited ecological and social opportunities. Specific goals of the program are to:

  • enable students to analyze trade-offs of different agricultural systems embedded within the greater complexity of socio-ecological systems
  • develop student expertise in food systems, ecology, and public process
  • engage students in careful consideration of the social, economic, and environmental outcomes of different industrial and biological processes
  • challenge students to understand the potential of inclusive participatory processes

How we are attaining our goals

The Agroecology Program requires students to take a core curriculum that is interdisciplinary, offering various perspectives on the agricultural endeavor. Agroecology 724 takes the a broadened perspective of agriculture in the context of global change, while Agroecology 702 takes the perspective of the farmer looking out on the world. Both courses cross disciplinary boundaries and force students to understand complex interactions across the social and natural sciences. Agroecology 720 requires students to travel throughout the state and investigate a diverse set of production and natural systems. The Agroecology 710 seminar changes instructor and topic each semester, and is designed around student participation and input, directly responding to student assessment of need.

How we assess our success

The Agroecology Program assesses its success by continual solicitation of evaluation by its students and faculty affiliates. The program offers students a number of avenues to communicate their experience, including course evaluations, semi-annual student listening sessions, and exit interviews of all graduating students. Through recent bylaws amendments, starting in the 2014-15 academic year, Program Governance Committee Meetings are made public minutes are made available to students with all non-private information. The goal of the bylaws changes is to increase student access to the governance process.