This study aimed to examine the effectiveness of sustainable agriculture and/or food systems curriculum in higher education through their use of three factors: sustainability-themed education, social and civic engagement, and experiential learning. According to an analysis of the literature on each factor, each has the potential to create successful sustainability practitioners, or those I labeled as “champions” based on Bagdonis et al.’s (2009) research. The themes’ use and importance were analyzed through content analysis of 18 program websites and interviews with 11 successful alumni from 6 of those programs. Data from the content analysis displayed the presence and effectiveness of each factor in the programs. The alumni recounted all three in moments that defined their education; however, experiential learning was perceived to be the most influential. The study ends with a brief reflection on the importance of the continuing to develop these programs in an effort to foster more sustainability champions.


Mariola, Matthew

Second Advisor

Tierney, Thomas


Environmental Studies; Sociology and Anthropology


Agricultural Education


sustainability, experiential, education, civic, engagement, champion, social capital

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2014 Alexander Haas