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Bringing the world of agriculture to the classroom
Date:4/11/2010

MADISON, WI, April 12, 2010-What do obesity trends in China, barriers to export markets facing small farmers in Kenya, or alternative soil conservation strategies in Peru have in common? They are case studies on global food and agriculture issues, and represent the world's interdependence on food and populations issues. Students attending colleges expect to build experiences of a broad and diverse world, but lecture-based passive learning is not the best way to teach higher order thinking, motivate students, or inspire changes in attitude.

Colorado State University instructors Patrick F. Byrne and Marc A. Johnson, along with teaching assistant Bethany F. Econopouly integrated case studies from Cornell University into "World Interdependence: Food and Population," a three credit course that attracts a wide variety of majors and interests, from freshman to seniors. The results were published in the 2010 Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, published by the American Society of Agronomy.

Although the course covers global agricultural issues, students had a wide range of experience with international and agricultural experience. The purpose of the case study portion of the course was to increase student engagement and interest with the subject matter and to promote higher level learning. The case studies would also create a link between the classroom and issues involving human health and nutrition, food production, poverty alleviation, and natural resource management in developing countries.

Students signed up for a case study with two to three other students. Each case study contained background information, stakeholder positions and a discussion of policy options. Before giving their 20 minute presentation to the entire fifty-four-student class, they were recommended to rehearse it for one of the instructors. Student groups who took advantage of the rehearsal option showed substantial improvement.

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Contact: Sara Uttech
sarauttech@sciencesocieties.org
608-268-4948
American Society of Agronomy
Source:Eurekalert

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