Sustainability specialization coming soon at Delaware Valley College

Apr 30, 2012

Delaware Valley College students in the college’s Natural Resources and Biosystems Management department will soon be able to earn a specialization in sustainable agriculture systems, something that could increase their job prospects and prepare them to make a positive difference. The specialization will teach students about alternative ways for producing and distributing food that are better for the environment.

Classes for the new specialization will begin in fall 2012. Students will follow a traditional 128-credit curriculum geared toward sustainable agriculture. Students from any major will be able to earn a 15-credit minor in sustainable agriculture and will come away with an understanding of the science of sustainable agriculture and learn about topics such as: production, USDA regulations for organic products, food safety, global issues, crop ecology, and animal husbandry.

“In our community and at Delaware Valley College there is a growing need for this focus in sustainable agriculture,” said Dean of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Russell C. Redding. “Students have an interest in the program and it benefits society. It is a great opportunity for DelVal.”

The curriculum will take a systems approach, as students will learn about whole systems such as environmental systems, food safety systems and production systems and how they interact with other systems. The science-based curriculum will allow students to learn about both plants and animals. Students will be required to take courses such as Principles of Sustainable Agriculture, Sustainability, and Organic Crop Science.

“There is a growing interest in what people eat for health,” said Dr. Jackie Ricotta, associate professor of horticulture. “In class I use the phrase ‘food as pharmaceutical.’ DelVal’s new specialization reflects the trend toward local food and farms that are sustainable.”

Students will have a variety of experiential learning opportunities from working on college land to internships and jobs at businesses in the area to hands-on class projects in the fields and greenhouse to student research. The Roth Farm, a college property located in North Wales, will be used as a primary application site.

“These are requirements industry is expecting our graduates to have,” said Dean Redding. “This is about putting our graduates in the best position to be employed and to demonstrate their versatility in their chosen fields.”

The program will prepare students for a variety of career options including working as sustainable agriculture producers or as consultants for businesses, making assessments about sustainable practices and products.