We are seeing increasing interest in trade and popular media about the environmental degradation from agriculture. Policy makers, educators, students, and the public are concerned about the environment, food safety, and sustainable agriculture. Conventional growers have shown interest in sustainable agriculture and organic farming. At the university and institution levels, interest in organic and sustainable agriculture education has increased (Ngouajio et al., 2006).
Educational institutions are striving to address the industry's need for information, personnel, and understanding of organic and sustainable agriculture production systems (Lamb et al., 2005). Horticultural education at various universities and colleges is focusing on teaching students theory and best management practices of sustainable agriculture. To achieve this goal, horticultural education has undertaken adapting to the needs of students and consumers regarding more environmentally benign forms of crop production.
Examples of adaptation by educational institutions include the University of California, Davis, developing an undergraduate major in sustainable agriculture (Parr and Van Horn, 2006), North Carolina State University developing an interdisciplinary and multilevel approach to organic and sustainable agriculture education (Schroeder et al., 2006), Washington State University organic agriculture major, and Michigan State University developing an organic farming curriculum (Biernbaum et al., 2006). Other examples include an undergraduate interdisciplinary minor in organic and sustainable crop production (Ferguson et al., 2006), a graduate program in sustainable agriculture (Delate, 2006), and student organic farms (Biernbaum et al., 2006; Markhart, 2006).
Hawaii is an extremely isolated tropical island environment. As such, sustainability is a critical issue. At the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa (UHM), sustainability education has encompassed the introduction of sustainability projects and curricula (Cusick, 2008). The university's goal is to become an active participant in higher education for sustainability and renewability, with the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) and the Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences (TPSS) working together to achieve this goal. This article provides examples of how TPSS has undertaken incorporating, adapting, and integrating environmental sustainability in agriculture into the horticultural education curricula.
Personnel in CTAHR have been actively involved in research and extension activities in organic and sustainable agriculture since 1991, helping to lay the groundwork for the development of a sustainable agriculture/organic curricula. Student groups such as the Sustainable and Organic Farm Training (SOFT) organization (UHM-CTAHR, 2009) and the Horticulture Society (TPSS undergraduate organization) also helped provide input into curriculum development. CTAHR administration provides funding support for SOFT.
The rationale of the approach to incorporating sustainability into TPSS curriculum was to engage students as consumers, to address the demand for alternative approaches, and to integrate science evidence-based principles and hands on experience. In response to industry needs for experienced and trained students, hands on practicum and multiple farm visits were integrated into the curriculum. Reducing rote memory learning and increasing interactive experience-based learning and encouraging self-learning form the basis for this integration.
Sustainability is a broad concept that is specifically addressed in TPSS 200 Tropical Crop Science. The general principles of agricultural sustainability include integration of multiple tools and acknowledging and considering social and environmental costs as well as economic costs of management decisions. These principles have been and continue to be incorporated into the TPSS curriculum at all levels.
Biernbaum, J.A., Thorp, L. & Ngouajio, M. 2006 Development of a year-round student organic farm and organic farming curriculum at Michigan State University HortTechnology 16 432 436
Cusick, J. 2008 Operationalizing sustainability education at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 9 246 256
DeFrank, J. 2007 Lecture notes and handouts for weed science lab (TPSS/PEPS 481-Fall 2007) 18 June 2009 <http://www2.hawaii.edu/∼defrenk>.
Delate, K. 2006 Incorporating organic and agroecological approaches into the university curricula: The Iowa State University graduate program in sustainable agriculture HortTechnology 16 445 448
Ferguson, J.J., Lamb, E. & Swisher, M. 2006 Developing an interdisciplinary organic and sustainable agriculture curriculum at the University of Florida HortTechnology 16 436 438
Khahn, T.D., Chung, I.M., Tawat, S. & Xuan, T.D. 2006 Weed suppression by Passiflora edulis and its potential allelochemicals European Weed Res. Soc. 46 296 303
Kobayashi, K. & Perez, K. 2009 Enhanced active learning and TA involvement in a production systems horticulture course 2009 Hawaii Intl. Conf. Educ.-Conf. Proc. 738 748
Kobayashi, K.D. & Perez, K. 2010 Could horticultural virtual field trips supplement actual field trips? 2010 Hawaii Intl. Conf. Educ.-Conf. Proc. 2934 2946
Lamb, E., Darnell, R., Hutchinson, C., Simonne, E. & Webb, M. 2005 Integrating organic and sustainable agriculture into a horticultural science curriculum Acta Hort. 672 197 203
Leary, J.K., DeFrank, J. & Sipes, B. 2006 Tropical eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) production with a buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare L.) living mulch system in Hawaii Biol. Agr. Hort. 24 105 116
Markhart A.H. III 2006 Organic educational opportunities at the University of Minnesota: The role of a student-run organic farm HortTechnology 16 443 445
Ngouajio, M., Delate, K., Carey, E., Azareno, A.N., Ferguson, J.J. & Sciarappa, W.J. 2006 Curriculum development for organic horticulture: Introduction HortTechnology 16 414 417
Pant, A., Radovich, T.J.K., Hue, N.V., Talcott, S.T. & Krenek, K.A. 2009 Compost extracts influence growth, total carotenoids, phenolics and antioxidant activity in pak choi (Brassica rapa chinensis group) grown under two fertilizer regimes J. Sci. Food Agr. (in press)
Parr, D.M. & Van Horn, M. 2006 Development of organic and sustainable agricultural education at the University of California, Davis: A closer look at practice and theory HortTechnology 16 426 431
Schroeder, M.S., Creamer, N.G., Linker, H.M., Mueller, J.P. & Rzewnicki, P. 2006 Interdisciplinary and multilevel approach to organic and sustainable agriculture education at North Carolina State University HortTechnology 16 418 428
University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources 2009 SOFT: Sustainable and organic farm training 25 May 2009 <http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/organic/SOFT.asp>.
University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences 2004a Tropical production systems TPSS 300 18 Jan. 2010 <http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/ctahr2001/TPSS/academics/courses/undergrad/tpss300/tpss300.html>.
University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences 2004b Vegetable crop production TPSS 401 20 Jan. 2010 <http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/ctahr2001/TPSS/academics/courses/undergrad/tpss401/tpss401.html>.
Wang, K.H., McSorely, R., Gallaher, R.N. & Kokalis-Burelle, N. 2008 Cover crops and organic mulches for nematode, weed and plant health management Nematology 10 231 242