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Lesson Plan

Online Certificate Program

UMass B.S. Degree Program





Sustainable Agriculture - PLSOILIN 265 - Spring (online course)

In this course we will study the ethical, practical and scientific aspects of agricultural sustainability including economic, social and environmental impacts of food and farming. We will use systems thinking tools to compare industrial and ecological agriculture, and ultimately each student will develop a holistic management plan for a farming system.

Learning Objectives:

·      Students will gain a firm understanding of many theories and forms of Sustainable Agriculture (including: Agroecology, Permaculture, Biodynamics, Natural Farming, Certified Organic, and Integrated Pest Management etc.) and develop their own definition.

·      Students will use case studies to reflect on the impact of agricultural practices on the economy, environment and society.

·      Students will study principles and strategies of sustainable agriculture then learn and use a systems approach to describe and analyze agriculture in their community. 

Course number:     PLSOILIN 265 (online only)

Dates:                     June 5 – July 10, 2012

Instructor:               Katie Campbell-Nelson, Lecturer



Lesson Plan: Click here

Required Textbook: None

Format:  This class is a lecture and discussion format delivered via an on-line environment with weekly quizzes and homework assignments. This course is worth 3 credits and is very intensive; you will be covering the same amount of material in 5 weeks as in a 15 week course! The instructor will monitor online activity daily and engage with the class throughout the week, but will not be available “24/7”.   While there is some flexibility, it is important to move along with the class, submitting and engaging in discussions to complete assignments each week.  There are three weeks in each unit.  There are a total of five units.

Technology: To view the material, make sure you have Adobe Acrobat Reader (which is available free here).  The technical requirements for the class are listed here  You will be posting to a blog as an author to receive credit for this course (instructions for authors are here).

Note* If you have any problems accessing any of the course material, please contact the UMass Online Tech Support office for help here. 

Exams and GradesThere will be no exams in this class.  Your grade will be based on successful completion of quizzes, participation in discussions, journal posts, homework assignments and submission of your final project.  Points are assigned as follows:


30 points (6 ea.)


20 points (4 ea.)


20 points (4 ea.)

Blog Posts

15 points (3 ea.)

Completed Online Blog

15 points


Grades will be given using these ranges:






















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This class is part of the Sustainable Food and Farming Certificate ProgramA UMass Certificate may be earned by the successful completion of 15 credits of approved courses in this series.  For information, contact Dr. John M. Gerber at;  


If you are interested in pursuing a Bachelor of Sciences degree at UMass, click on Sustainable Food and Farming Program.


“The most necessary thing for agriculture is not to achieve breakthroughs, but to determine what tools and methods are appropriate to specific people, places, and needs, and to apply them correctly. This kind of agriculture is to be practiced knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently.”

Wendell Berry