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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Cultivating Sustainability: Impact of Campus Agriculture Projects on Undergraduate Student Connections to Nature, Environmentally Responsible Behaviors, and Perceptions
by LaCharite, Kerri, Ph.D., Prescott College, 2014, 278; 3681161
Abstract (Summary)

The number of colleges and universities with campus agriculture projects in the US has grown from an estimated 23 in 1992 to 300 today with possibly increased numbers predicted. The profile emerging from campus agriculture projects looks a lot different from the traditional land grant colleges of agriculture. In spite of this emergent trend and staunch advocacy for campus agriculture projects, limited empirical research on agriculture-based learning in higher education exists outside agriculture degrees and theoretical work of scholars such as Liberty Hyde Bailey and David Orr. The purpose of this exploratory research was two-fold. First, prevailing characteristics and pedagogical objectives of campus agriculture projects were explored through a survey of all known US campus agriculture project managers and educators. Second, interviews, photo-elicitation, field observations, and use of the Connectedness to Nature Scale and Inclusion of Nature Scale were conducted during the summer of 2013 at Yale Farm and the University of Montana's Program in Ecological Agriculture and Society Farm (P.E.A.S.). At these two farms, I studied whether and in what ways did academic courses connected to campus agriculture projects at US colleges impact participating students' perceptions of and connection to nature.

This mixed methods research illustrates a re-visioning of how higher education is interfacing with agriculture and agriculture-based education beyond traditional land grant colleges of agriculture through attention to sustainability initiatives and pedagogies. Agriculture-based education and campus agriculture projects can distinctively impact students' perceptions of connectedness to nature through experiencing agriculture's role in establishing a new worldview. Data offers empirical evidence that campus agriculture projects deepen connection to place, and offers substitutes to anthropocentric beliefs and behaviors. While experiences at the campus agriculture projects motivated pro-environmental and social behaviors specific to farming, food, and the more-than-human community at the farms, participating students did not report an increase in cognitive connectedness to nature or behaviors beyond food, farming, or the more-than-human community at the farms.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Parajuli, Pramod
Commitee: Canty, Jeanine, Julier, Alice, Williams, Dilafruz
School: Prescott College
Department: Education / Sustainability Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 76/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Agricultural education, Sustainability, Higher education
Keywords: Connectedness to nature, Educational farms, Environmentally responsible behavior, Perceptions, Place attachment, Sustainability education
Publication Number: 3681161
ISBN: 978-1-321-53774-1
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