Created in 2007, the Agroecology MS Program at UW-Madison trains students to research and analyze agricultural systems within a broader environmental and socio-economic context. Key to this endeavor is interdisciplinary expertise, which the Agroecology Program achieves through working with affiliated faculty members from nearly 20 departments across campus.
A typical cohort consists of 8-12 incoming students with diverse backgrounds and undergraduate majors. Agroecology MS students work with faculty on focused projects across a wide range of the traditional departments of the academy. Our core curriculum brings together these students for a multidisciplinary, agroecological, analysis of agricultural systems in a broadened context.
The Agroecology Program is supported by the interdisciplinary Agroecology cluster, which hired three faculty members in 2002: Michael Bell in community and environmental sociology, Claudio Gratton in entomology, and Randall Jackson in agronomy. These faculty, all still active in the program, were the catalyst for what is now a group of over 50 faculty affiliates that advise Agroecology students and participate in program governance.
The cluster concept is an innovation of the University of Wisconsin in which a critical mass of faculty are hired into an interdisciplinary area, but with tenure homes in traditional departments.