Expert Report

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

Many of today's major challenges -- including energy security, national security, human health, and climate change -- are closely tied to the global food and agriculture enterprise. Academic institutions with programs in agriculture are in a perfect position to foster the next generation of leaders and professionals needed to address these challenges, but many institutions have struggled to keep pace with changing times. At the request of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Farm Foundation, and the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, the National Research Council convened a committee to examine ways to effect change in undergraduate agricultural education to attract top students and prepare them for the challenges of tomorrow. The committee's report identifies nine steps institutions can take to better meet the needs of students, employers, and the broader society. For more information, please visit http://dels.nas.edu/ag_education/

Key Messages

  • If institutions of higher learning do not address the changes needed, their colleges and departments of agriculture may eventually become irrelevant. Their graduates will have difficulty in keeping up with the changing needs of society and in securing stable careers.
  • Many of the colleges have not fully recognized that changes have also taken place in their own educational institutions
  • The diverse and broader student body is generally unaware of the multi-dimensional and challenging nature of the agricultural disciplines and the exciting career opportunities open to them, despite evidence that many students have an interest in a variety of scientific, business, economic, environmental, and social issues related to food and agriculture.