This Organic Agriculture programme at Wageningen University and Research has been designed to train students in multiple aspects of organic agriculture and the associated processing and marketing chain.An important goal is to prepare for interdisciplinary teamwork at an academic level.
The programme is unique in its combination of detailed consideration of the underlying principles and processes from a natural science perspective with social and economic studies. Creative thinking is required to design new sustainable farming and marketing systems instead of simply optimising existing systems. The programme has an international character that uses case studies and offers project opportunities in both the developed and developing world. The curriculum has been carefully formulated to provide a balance between fundamental and applied science. Various university groups participate including farming systems ecology, soil quality, animal science, entomology, rural sociology,environmental policy, education and economy, making this a well-rounded and holistic programme.
Graduates have career opportunities in agribusiness, research, non-governmental organisations and public administration. They often hold jobs such as scientist,consultant, policy maker or quality assurance officer.
Due to concerns on conventional farming practices, food safety issues and pollution, consumers increasingly demand wholesome agricultural products that are produced in a sustainable way. In addition to the demand for organic products by consumers in industrialised countries, there is a need for scientific agroecological farming practices in developing countries and countries in economic distress. In these regions, farmers cannot afford external inputs like pesticides, fertilisers or expensive seeds. Courses focus on: the analysis and design of sustainable organic farming systems; studying the relationship between plant and animal production; soil and landscape; analysing factors affecting plant and animal health; organic product quality. Students learn a systems approach to conduct research projects involving integrated agroecological systems.
Improved understanding of global and local agro-food networks is essential to stimulate sustainable production of healthy food and renewable resources. This specialisation focuses on the social sciences perspective of sustainable systems of food provisioning. In addition, globalisation and sustainability of food production and consumption are addressed. Production, processing and marketing of organic products is increasingly affected by (inter-) national policy and legislation. Insight
into these aspects is crucial to expand and develop organic food production networks. Courses focus on: globalisation of food production and consumption;global versus local production; consumer behaviour and marketing; sustainable food networks and value chain analysis; environmental education. Students learn to analyse complex problems at the intersection of organic agriculture and society.
The double degree programme combines the strengths of the two co-operating institutes, adding the specialist knowledge in agroecosystems management of FESIA with the expertise in designing and evaluating sustainable food systems and value chains in Wageningen. Students get the opportunity to understand structure and function of complex agroecosystems. They learn to apply systems approaches in studying, designing and evaluating agricultural systems and food production chains, and to develop creative solutions for sustainable farming and marketing of organic products. Action learning and action research through cooperation with farmers, food system professionals and consumers will shorten the distance between practice and theory.
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