Organic Agriculture (MOA) / MSc

Profile

As a result of increased environmental concern and consumer interest, Organic Agriculture is now globally recognized as a defined sector. This sector includes producers and producer organizations, consumers, certifying bodies, processing industry and traders, service providers, various interest groups and many other players. At the same time, agriculture remains a major user of space, is central to social cohesion in many rural areas around the world, and not only provides food but also contributes to the health and well-being of people and ecosystems. This multi-functionality provides an important perspective for agriculture in general, and for organic agriculture in particular.

Agriculture, environment and society: an integrated approach
In order to meet the challenge of producing healthy, socially responsible and ecologically sound food, the Master Organic Agriculture explores food production, food consumption and multi-functional land from the viewpoint of many disciplines (i.e. plant, soil- animal, social and environmental sciences), multiple perspectives (i.e. sustainability, health and ethics) and different geographical scales (local, regional and global). A systems approach therefore characterizes both the research and education domains in organic agriculture. Our programme highly values the integration of theory and practice by focusing on action learning and action research. The programme prepares students for a wide range of positions related to multiple land use, organic agriculture and the food production chain.

Learning Outcomes

After successful completion of this MSc programme graduates are expected to be able to:
- integrate knowledge of chain management, legislation and certification, consumer behaviour, marketing, economics, communication, education, plant and animal production, environmental sciences and social sciences to analyse the main components of complex farming systems and to explore the principles of food production, consumption, natural resource management, multi-functional land use and the social environment;
- describe the available research-orientations, from empirical analytical to interpretative to socially critical, and explain the merits of each orientation depending on the purpose pursued and the research question at stake;
- integrate and apply the knowledge of plant and animal production and soil and environmental science in the context of organic agriculture (Specialization A - Agroecology);
- explain the key differences between organic and conventional agricultural systems, as well as between other emerging agricultural systems (low input, sustainable agriculture), and analyse agro-ecological processes and management systems (Specialization A - Agroecology);
- integrate and apply basic knowledge of chain management, legislation, consumer behaviour, and economics in the development of healthy, socially responsible and ecologically sound food and other agricultural products (Specialization B - Consumer and Market);
- analyse consumer behaviour and (chain)management systems in relation to organic agriculture (Specialization B - Consumer and Market);
- understand the structure and function of complex agroecosystems (Specialization C - Double Degree Agroecology);
- apply systems approaches in studying, designing and evaluating (agricultural) systems and food production chains, and to develop creative solutions for sustainable farming and marketing of organic products (Specialization C - Double Degree Agroecology)
- apply a systems approach in analysing, evaluating and designing complex agricultural systems and (food) production chains by using suitable analytical measurements, surveys and mathematical end statistical methods;
- understand and criticize certification systems for organic products;
- design, independently, a research proposal in which the research orientation used and details of corresponding methodology, research design and methods used are made explicit;
- execute a carefully chosen and societally relevant research design;
- translate (action) research data and scientific knowledge in organic agriculture into relevant solutions to complex problems, to play a pivotal role in international innovation networks and transition processes;
- contribute scientific knowledge and understanding in interactive multi-stakeholder change processes (e.g. action research) aimed at innovating and improving the organic sector, both strategically and practically; Shift between different perspectives in time (past, present & future), space (local, regional & global), culture and discipline;
- analyse and evaluate the ethical, environmental, societal and economic consequences of research and reflect on the different roles of the scientist in agricultural transition processes;
- co-operate in a multi-disciplinary international team in different team roles, including the role of team leader, to design viable alternatives for conventional strategies;
- communicate effectively and with an open mind for new ideas about creative alternatives in organic agriculture with specialists and non-specialists, both verbally (in presentations and debates) and in writing, and act as an intermediary between science experts on the one hand, and policy makers and the wider public on the other;
- design and plan personal learning processes based on continuous reflection and feedback on individual knowledge, skills, attitudes and performance;
- reflect on the consequences of values, perspectives and actions for one-self (self-reflection), for others (empathic understanding), and for larger societal systems in which students are involved.

Specializations

- Agroecology;
- Consumer and Market;
- Double Degree Agroecology

Programme Director

Dr G.J. Kuipers
Phone: 0317-(4)84767/ 82839
Email: anja.kuipers@wur.nl

Study Adviser(s)

Drs C.A. Langeveld
Phone: 0317-(4)83571
Email: cor.langeveld@wur.nl

Programme Committee

Chair: (Vacancy)
Secretary: Dr G.J. Kuipers

Internet

http://www.wageningenuniversity.nl/moa

Study Association

Semper Florens
Email: semper.florens@wur.nl
Internet: www.semper-florens.nl