The Agriculture, Environment, and Development signature theme rigorously trains students in the profession of rural and development sociology for careers in academia, government, and non-governmental organizations in the United States and internationally. Our academic degree programs enable students to meet the following learning objectives: (1) examine linkages among agriculture, food, natural resources, and society; (2) analyze the relationships among social change, technological innovation, and development; (3) understand the social, demographic, and economic dynamics of rural communities; (4) apply quantitative and qualitative methods of social research; and (5) engage in problem-focused research and extension scholarship.
The Agricultural and Society undergraduate major emphasizes the application of social science knowledge to issues related to agriculture and society. The interdisciplinary major draws largely on courses from sociology, political science and economics. Its goal is to prepare students to become leaders in addressing complex issues related to the social and human dimensions of agriculture at both the local and global level. Students will learn social science concepts and skills to understand, analyze and communicate complex ideas, information and data related to agricultural systems. This major requires a core of sociology courses, as well as courses in economics, political science, mathematical and physical sciences, life sciences, and agricultural sciences.
The graduate program focuses on training sociologists with strong research skills to help understand and solve complex problems related to agriculture and development. Master’s and Ph.D. degrees are offered in either rural sociology or sociology, in which students complete a program of study including core and elective courses. Core courses include sociological theory, quantitative and qualitative methods, and social inequality. Elective courses include sociology of agriculture, environmental sociology, social change and development, and community and development. After completing their coursework, students must successfully pass preliminary written and oral examinations and successfully write and defend a high quality thesis or dissertation on a topic appropriate to the Agriculture, Environment, and Development area. All graduate students are supported by graduate research assistantships, in which faculty mentor graduate students through participation in research projects, presenting at professional meetings, and co-authoring academic papers.