ATHENS – Agriculture has a huge impact on how our modern global society functions. The University of Georgia’s Impact of Global Agriculture on World Cultures course is a way for university students to learn about the role agriculture plays in our daily lives today and throughout human history.
“I start in early history and move forward to the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago and up to the present day,” said Brian Kipper, associate professor of avian sciences at CAES. “I explain to students across campus how agriculture plays an important role in everyone’s lives and how it allows us to do what we want instead of scavenging for food every day.”
Kipper engages students in group discussions with members to encourage them to explore their own lives in relation to agriculture, and engages them in the topic.
Guest lecturers are a highlight, allowing students to learn from producers with a variety of experiences and perspectives. The class was developed about ten years ago by Robert Beckstead, a former poultry farmer. Kiepper guest lectured in Beckstead’s course and began teaching in fall 2016.
He said he hopes that because of agriculture, students will understand that they can choose careers outside of agriculture.
“There was only one job so far: hunter-gatherer,” he said. “When we looked at creating more food for others, everything changed.”
The bird is a model for the Reproductive Endocrine Disorders course offered by UGA’s Department of Avian Sciences, whose curriculum covers topics ranging from follicular development to embryology.
The course focuses primarily on poultry, but covers cattle and even has time for humans, said CAES Associate Professor Adam Davis.
“It’s an opportunity to understand the cause and effect of science, and what comes out of the lesson often surprises students,” Davis said. “You can see a lot of people are surprised by the statistics when they hear what delaying childbearing until their 30s can do to their chances of getting pregnant. They are even more surprised to learn that advanced reproductive technology cannot simply reverse these age-related deficiencies.”
The challenging nature and format of the course prepares students well for future standardized tests like the MCAT, Davis said.
“We work on our deductive reasoning and analytical skills,” he said, “about 80 percent of the students have pre-veterinary or pre-medical education, and the deep thinking we do here will help us diagnose future patients. We just find the facts.” passing by to find out.”
Poultry scientist Andrew Benson is working to turn his students into chicken experts. Benson, an assistant professor in the Department of Avian Science, now teaches Introductory Birding, which convinced him to major in avian science at CAES more than 20 years ago.
“It’s really a cornerstone course,” said Benson, who earned his doctorate at CAES in 2006. “Poultry is a $47 billion industry in Georgia, and they need all the talent they can get. You get as much hands-on experience here as you do freshman, sophomore year. You can transfer it to any career, but this is an opportunity to introduce them to the largest agricultural sector of our country.”
In the lab portion of the class, two research projects, one in nutrition and one in endocrinology, are conducted, and students write scientific reports for each experimental experiment. By having students analyze documentaries and articles about the poultry industry, Benson aims to immerse them in the intricacies of science and strengthen their skills in conducting experiments and synthesizing data.
From embryology to processing, the class covers topics in avian science.
“It’s a privilege to help students understand the field and the evidence-based practices that make it successful,” Benson said. “It’s multi-layered, fascinating and inevitable.”