Agriculture has been around even before the start of civilization. It’s the heart and soul of the earliest civilizations, and today it is at the center of most modern societies. Some regions of the world worry about famine and food distribution, while others are more concerned about genetic manipulation, environmental sustainability, and the spread of epidemics. At the heart of it lies Agricultural Studies.
What is Agricultural Studies?
This subjects cuts across multiple disciplines, but it’s safe to say that graduates of Agricultural Studies become knowledgeable about the sciences and social impact of farming and forestry. That means students need to develop a good understand of the natural sciences as well as the social sciences.
The coverage and the focus of any Agricultural Studies program depend mainly on the university offering it. In some areas, the emphasis is on helping students prepare for participation in Agriculture at an international level. So the topics will heavily cover global food systems, large-scale sustainability, and economics based on bio-products. Other schools may want to direct more attention to local agriculture, or perhaps on a particular aspect of agriculture. So it may be based on farming in a specific area or region. Or it may be more about large property management, environmental and sustainable farming practices, crop farming, or caring for farm animals.
There is also a large probability that hands-on work will be part of the program. Usually, the university even has its own farms for the students to work on, or they have contacts with nearby farms.
For the most part, graduates don’t usually end up with mud and manure on their boots while they till the soil, plant the crops, and shear the sheep. In fact, the most usual workplace for Agricultural Studies graduates is either an office or a laboratory.
It all depends on the emphasis of their program. Some are for business, so running a farm or any agricultural business is a normal employment prospect. Agricultural business can be very complicated, especially on an international scale.
Some are more focused on the scientific aspects, so they can contribute more on research and development. Perhaps they can investigate more efficient means of growing crops, feeding farm animals, protecting the environment, or protecting the crops from pestilence and disease.
Then there is also agricultural technology. The graduate may be involved in the design and manufacture of new farming implements, tools, and vehicles. A graduate with this knowledge will be familiar with various agricultural technologies, and can evaluate the most effective means of doing a task.
Others are focused more on education, so they can become teachers. Of course, there are those who can use the knowledge they gained to start their own farms.
Top Universities for Agricultural Studies
In high school, prospective Agricultural Studies majors need to get good grades in the natural sciences as well as in social studies and economics. Afterwards, they can apply to any number of colleges and universities that offer an Agricultural Studies program.
Among the top rated US universities that offer Agricultural Studies are the University of California Davis, Cornell University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Iowa State University, and University of California Berkeley. Rounding out the top ten are Oregon State University, Purdue University, Texas A&M University, Ohio State University, and University of Massachusetts Amherst.