University of Guelph Introduces New Organic Agriculture Certificate to Enhance Educational Opportunities for Students

Posted on Monday, May 29th, 2017

The University of Guelph is introducing a new certificate in organic agriculture that will be available to all undergraduate students in fall 2018, encouraging broader student enrollment in organic and alternative agriculture courses.

“There is a strong demand from our students who are interested in supplementing their degree with specialized learning in organic agriculture,” explains Rene Van Acker, dean of the Ontario Agricultural College of the University of Guelph.

“We know there is a growing demand for qualified employees in the rapidly growing organic sector in Ontario and Canada. This certificate will support a broader cross section of students who will enter the sector with specialized expertise.”

After consultation with students, the University has replaced the organic agriculture major of the bachelor of science in agriculture degree with the new certificate.

“When we originally developed the major, we interpreted the demand as interest in organic food production. We now realize that there is a broader interest from students wanting to study societal impacts and demands,” Van Acker says.

The certificate will focus on organic standards, environmental and societal impacts, value chain and certification, societal needs and social issues in association with organic agriculture production and distribution. Students will be able to select electives focusing on soils, animal and crop production, and society and sustainability.

Van Acker explains that many of the students who indicated interest in the certificate are enrolled in a degree unrelated to food production, such as food science, business, international development and nutrition, and plan to pursue careers that will work with organic products after the farm gate.

“More and more organic food products are appearing on Canadian supermarket shelves and in farmers’ markets,” says Andreas Boecker, acting associate dean – academic for the Ontario Agricultural College. “There is certainly a demand for post-secondary graduates in careers along the whole organic agriculture value chain.”

“The certificate is one-of-a-kind in Ontario and positions our students with the ability to access a specialization,” Boecker adds. “Through the adaption of our programs we are showing our leadership and commitment to training and education for the agri-food sector, including organic.”

For more information contact:

Prof. Rene Van Acker
Dean, Ontario Agricultural College, University of Guelph
vanacker@uoguelph.ca
519-824-4120, Ext. 53533

Prof. Andreas Boecker
Acting Associate Dean (Academic), Ontario Agricultural College, University of Guelph
aboecker@uoguelph.ca 
519-824-4120, Ext. 53332

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