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Agriculture and the Undergraduate (1992)

Chapter: 15 A Challenge, a Charge, and a Commitment

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Suggested Citation:"15 A Challenge, a Charge, and a Commitment." National Research Council. 1992. Agriculture and the Undergraduate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1986.
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Page 121
Suggested Citation:"15 A Challenge, a Charge, and a Commitment." National Research Council. 1992. Agriculture and the Undergraduate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1986.
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Page 122

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CHAPTER 15 A Challenge, a Charge, anti a Commitment Karl G. Brandi I would like to return to the metaphor of the blank canvas that I used earlier in this volume (see Chapter l ). Is your image for a new curriculum beginning to emerged 1 admit that mine still has a few problems. It is still an unfinished piece, but it does have new shapes and colors. Although it is not ready to be hung in a gallery, it is different from what 1 brought with me. I hope that the confer- ence participants and the readers of this volcano have something exciting on their canvases. In a more serious vein, I would like to point out a parallel. Dur- ing the conference, a selection of books was on display. One of them was a tan paperback volume published by the Board on Agri- culture of the National Research Council, Investing in Research (Na- tional Research Council, 1989~. The idea behind that publication was the generation of substantial new support for the research and development activities that are major efforts on all of our cam- puses. The parallel is another document, one that was found in the folders of the conference participants, a thin, rose-brown confer- ence program brochure entitled Ulnvesting in the Future: Profes- sional Education for the Undergraduate." By cutting and splicing, that title can be changed to read simply Ulnvesting in Education for the Undergraduate." The colors of these two documents are, by and large, the same. Both publications carry the imprimatur of the Board on Agriculture of the National Research Council. Both have something important to say about what goes on in colleges of agriculture. There is a problem, however. Investing in Research is much thicker than Uln- vesting in Education for the Undergraduate." 121

AGRICULTURE AND TftE UNDERGRADUATE I hope the papers in this volume have generated many good ideas that, when they are implemented back on our nation's cam- puses and moved toward fruition, will serve as subjects for propos- als to the Higher Education Challenge Grants program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Good ideas that are well expressed, whether they be ideas for research or ideas for better educating the young people of our country, do get funded. I hope that your ideas will attract funding to strengthen and support the education of stu- dents in our colleges and universities. In so doing, your creative energies will provide the wherewithal for expanding the size of "investing in Education for the Undergraduate," so that, in weight and accomplishment, it grows to match Investing in Research. Education and research are vital they are parallel tracks on which ride the processes of human capital development and scientific discovery that fuel the engine of our industry, but they must be tracks of more nearly equal load-bearing capacity if we are to move forward with confidence. If one is weaker than the other, derail- ments are inevitable. We have a way to go, but the conference and this volume point us in the right direction. In closing, I leave you with this. Conference participants and readers of this volume have been encouraged to start with a blank canvas and create a new vision a picture of a new curriculum for educating the students in their colleges of agriculture. Pictures are nice, and they can inspire. But if they only hang in the gallery on your campus and are never made real, they will only be reminders of what might have been. The challenge to each participant and reader is to turn art into life. Accomplishing such change is a very human activity and a very political activity, but it is essential. Will it happen on your campus? It is up to you. Reference National Research Council. 1989. Investing in Research: A Proposal to Strengthen the Agricultural, Food, and Environmental System. Washing- ton, D.C.: National Academy Press. 122

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This book presents efforts to chart the comprehensive changes needed to meet the challenges of undergraduate professional education in agriculture. The United States needs to invest in the future--in human capital and the scientific knowledge base--to revitalize one of its leading industries, the agricultural, food, and environmental system. That objective can be met by educating all students about agriculture as well as by educating others specifically for careers in agriculture.

Agriculture and the Undergraduate includes perspectives on rewarding excellence in teaching and formulating curricula to reflect cultural diversity, the environment, ecology, agribusiness and business, humanities and the social sciences, and the economic and global contexts of agriculture.

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