AMHERST, Mass. – The Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is now offering a fully online associate of science degree in sustainable food and farming.
Starting in September 2016, the 60-credit associate degree will allow students to study sustainable food and farming from anywhere in the world. The degree will cover basic knowledge of plant and soil science, and train students in agricultural techniques, community development, public policy and education. The program is designed to be flexible, allowing students to focus on specific career objectives. Students enrolled in the program will earn credit online and by working in their local farm communities. The program currently offers 24 online courses from “Introduction to Permaculture,” “Global Food Systems,” and “Urban Agriculture” to “Pastured Poultry” and “Organic Vegetable Production.”
Wesley Autio, director of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, says, “Stockbridge has offered associate of science degrees since 1918. This program continues our tradition of meeting students where they are at and offering practical education in a way that fits the lives of busy working adults.”
The online associate of science degree in sustainable food and farming complements the already established 15-credit online certificate program in sustainable food and farming offered at UMass Amherst. Both programs represent the evolving way students can learn sustainable agriculture at UMass Amherst, according to Renee Ciulla, academic adviser for the new program. She says, “We have seen a remarkable growth in demand for online education from non-traditional students. Many people are looking for opportunities to change their career and become engaged in something more meaningful and useful to others.”
She adds, “Our students are motivated and passionate with diverse backgrounds and experiences who appreciate the chance to connect with professions, spend time ‘off-line’ and share what they learned in groups.”
UMass Amherst has more than 25 majors relating to sustainability including a bachelor of science in sustainable food and farming. The institution also has a student farm program, which allows students to plant, harvest and market farm products year- round. In 2015, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education awarded UMass Amherst STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) Gold for its sustainability leadership.