UC Davis adds new degree, its first focusing on sustainability

by Aubrey White — last modified Aug 24, 2011 12:05 PM

For the first time, UC Davis will offer undergraduate students a major focused on sustainability.

 The new Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems (SA&FS) Bachelor of Science degree uniquely integrates several subjects to provide students a thorough understanding of the issues facing farming and food systems* today.

 “This is an exciting addition to the college that reflects a change in how we think about food and agriculture. Students will gain a broad perspective of what it takes to put dinner on the table in an era of greater demand and fewer resources,” said UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Dean Neal Van Alfen.

 Students in the SA&FS program will focus on the social, economic and environmental aspects of agriculture and food – from farm to table and beyond – to gain a diversity of knowledge and skills both in the classroom and through personal experience on and off campus. 

 “The skills and knowledge gained through this interdisciplinary curriculum will prepare students to become 21st century leaders in agriculture and food systems,” said professor Thomas Tomich, the SA&FS major advisor and director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis.

 While the major was approved this summer, it is a part of a long history of field- and classroom-based interdisciplinary learning opportunities that have been available to students at the UC Davis Student Farm for more than 35 years, said Mark Van Horn, the Student Farm director who teaches a core course in the major.

 “Learning through doing and reflection adds a valuable dimension to students’ education because it helps them see the connections between theory and practice in the real world,” Van Horn said.

 Current students have already begun transferring into the SA&FS major. Applications for freshmen and transfer students to enter the major will be available in November.

 *A food system includes the production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste management involved in feeding a population. 


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Media contact:

Eve Hightower, Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis communications coordinator, (530) 752-8664


For additional information about the major, see the SA&FS Web page.