With reductions in resources available for teaching and the loss of faculty teaching positions over time, curricula in the plant agricultural sciences have been under significant pressure (Robertson, 2006). In many cases, course offerings were downsized, and very often when faculty positions were not filled, or filled under a different job description with a research emphasis, courses were eliminated (Harl, 2003). This phenomenon has resulted in less diverse and thorough curricula in the undergraduate plant agricultural sciences at many universities. Colleges of agriculture often have had difficulty in offering important core classes (e.g., plant physiology, plant nutrition, and plant anatomy) that serve as the building blocks for more advanced classes. This has been particularly true for smaller colleges of agriculture that have fewer faculty and teaching resources from which to draw. As science and job markets have changed, the need for new courses and changes to curricula to address these emerging issues has arisen. However, with limited faculty and resources, many colleges of agriculture have often been unable to develop and to offer courses to meet new educational needs or priorities (e.g., water management, international agriculture markets, and secondary uses of plants). Additionally, some courses, although very important to the plant agricultural science curriculum, often have had low student numbers per class (sometimes by design or necessity) and have thus been considered an inefficient use of teaching resources.
To address these problems, the University of Arkansas, Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University, and Oklahoma State University (participating institutions) created the Alliance for Cooperative Course Exchange in the Plant Sciences (ACCEPtS). The ACCEPtS program served as the mechanism for the participating institutions to share teaching resources and to use those teaching resources to develop, maintain, and share courses in the plant agricultural sciences. By participating in this course exchange program, the institutions were able to reduce course duplication, offer students courses taught by experts in the subject matter, jointly develop core courses as well as courses related to emerging issues that they would otherwise have been unable to offer students, and increase the efficiency with which they used teaching resources. Sharing of courses through ACCEPtS allowed each institution to maintain significant flexibility and to use the courses as best serves the needs of their respective students and institutions.
Harl, N.E. 2003 Relevance of the land grant mission in the twenty-first century 19 Apr. 2011. <http://www.econ.iastate.edu/∼harl/Relavanceofthe LandGrantMission.pdf>.
Robertson, R. 2006 Land-grant death spiral mirrors problems of modern day farmers 19 Apr. 2011. <http://southeastfarmpress.com/land-grant-death-spiral-mirrors-problems-modern-day-farmers>.