Save the dates: Certificate in organic agriculture visioning sessions

You’re invited to participate in one of two virtual visioning sessions for the development of an undergraduate certificate in organic agriculture:

  • Monday, June 1st from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, June 3rd from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

At the session, you will hear about the motivation behind this initiative, learn about the structures and intent of certificates at UW–Madison, and have the opportunity to brainstorm a curriculum, learning outcomes and immersive experiences for those who pursue the certificate.

Please RSVP to get a link to the virtual meeting by emailing Katie Peterman, Organic Certificate Program Manager at

Why a Certificate in Organic Agriculture?

Based on rising student and community interest in global food security, the impacts of human activity on the environment and climate change, animal and human welfare, farm-to-table efforts, and the methods with which food is produced, a group of faculty and academic staff are developing an undergraduate certificate in organic agriculture, aimed to be launched in Fall 2021. Our initiative intends to be an immersive one, promoting opportunities for hands-on experience across a wide variety of activities related to organic agriculture. We also seek to develop a set of core and elective courses that secures students the opportunity to integrate knowledge and expertise from many disciplines and schools at UW–Madison.

A rich understanding of the management practices associated with production, processing, and marketing of organic food and fiber are central to the initiative. However, students will also be strongly encouraged to develop intellectual connections to broader themes that affect the role of organic and other alternative agricultural approaches in society. To name a few outside of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, we highlight entrepreneurship and marketing, public policy and program design, ecology and environmental stewardship, public health, and non-profit/social innovation. The appropriate mix of courses will depend on the student’s passions and learning goals, but the design of the certificate will emphasize flexibility for combining the learning opportunities available on campus in creative ways to advance their practical and scholarly development.

This certificate initiative does not stand alone. Through the generosity of private donations coupled with CALS resources, it is part of a larger effort called WisCORE (Wisconsin Center on Organic Research and Education) that will promote graduate student training in research and education activities related to organic agriculture and engage in substantive outreach activities to relevant stakeholders along the ‘supply chain’ and others connected to it through markets, policies, communities, and the like.

How can you be involved?

We are looking to involve stakeholders throughout UW–Madison to create an organic certificate that will broaden the knowledge about organic agriculture for students in any undergraduate major on campus. This includes students in production agricultural fields, students interested in business and economic aspects, students interested in nutrition or food systems, and students interested in health or environmental components of organic agriculture.  Some questions to consider as you join the virtual Listening Session:

  1. What would you like to see as Required/Core Courses for the certificate?
  2. What are some ideas for Elective Courses for the certificate?
  3. What existing courses could contribute to the curriculum?
  4. What is one learning outcome/core competency you’d like to see from the certificate?
  5. How can this certificate fill gaps in current curriculum offerings for students pursuing a career in the organic sector and enhance their employability?
  6. How should program governance be structured? Who should be directly involved?
  7. Do you have suggestions for immersive experiences for students in the organic certificate program?