Course offerings expanded for online certificates

PULLMAN – WSU, the first institution in the country to offer an academic major in organic agriculture and the first to offer an online certificate in organic ag, has now expanded its online course offerings in the organic agriculture certificate program. Three new courses that lead to the Certificate in Organic Agriculture will be offered this spring semester.

Admission to WSU is required to enroll in courses and to earn the certificate, and participants may apply as non-degree seeking students. More information is available at WSU’s Center for Distance and Professional Education Web site at or by calling (800) 222-4978. The deadline to apply for admission to WSU for spring semester is Dec. 19. The deadline to register for classes for spring semester is Jan. 9.

“The U.S. organic food industry has grown at a rate of 20 to 30 percent each year for more than a decade and is really challenged to find employees who understand the unique approaches used in organic agriculture,” said Kim Kidwell, associate dean for academic programs in the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. “Those who complete the certificate will hold the credential they need to succeed in one of the fastest-growing industries in the country.”

Kidwell noted that many of those working in agriculture in Washington and throughout the United States already hold a bachelor’s degree, but may wish to expand their skill set to include organic agriculture. “This certificate fills that need,” she said.

New courses being offered this spring are: Crop Science 360, “World Agricultural Systems,” which surveys contemporary and historical systems of food production as well as the agro-environmental characteristics of the world’s farming systems; Soils 441, “Soil Fertility,” which deals with the impact of nutrients on crop productivity, and soil and water quality; and Ag and Food Systems 445, “Field Analysis of Sustainable Food Systems,” an experiential course in which students visit farms, and food processing and marketing facilities in order to explore first hand the issues and relationships impacting sustainable food production.

Other courses in the program focus on topics ranging from economics to resolving environmental conflicts. The program also includes an “on the ground” practicum or professional internship in organic agriculture.

Center for Distance and Professional Education director Janet Kendall said offering the organic agriculture courses online makes them available to a global audience. “Anyone from around the state or around the world with an interest in organic agriculture can participate. As long as they have Internet access, they can take courses,” she said.

Students at WSU campuses also can pursue the online certificate. “We anticipate that many students in a variety of disciplines will find value in adding this certificate to their course of study,” Kendall said.

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