Ecological Agriculture: Advanced Agroecology and Soil Science

Spring Open
Class Standing
Martha Rosemeyer
Robin Morgan

A battle for the future of our food system is being waged between competing paradigms. On one side is the global, industrial-based system that provides large quantities of inexpensive food along with significant environmental, social and dietary impacts. The competing vision is a more localized, community-based system that produces higher quality food while seeking to minimize environmental and social impacts. We will explore the impact of these opposing paradigms on the ecological function of the agricultural system including soil health. The process of conversion from industrial agriculture to more sustainable agroecosystems, including farming methods that move toward climate resilience and soil restoration, will also be examined.

The agroecology portion will focus on ecological principles applied to agricultural systems, particularly energy flow and the function of biodiversity. The soil science portion will include soil biology and fertility management, as well as soil chemistry and nutrient cycling. We will use Stephen Gliessman et al.’s, Agroecology along with Ray Weil and Nyle Brady's Elements of the Nature and Properties of Soil as road maps for our inquiry. A critical question that provides context and informs our inquiry: Can humane, sustainable agricultural systems meet the needs for nutrient-dense and culturally-appropriate food for all in a world undergoing climate change?

In this interdisciplinary study of agriculture, we will develop "systems" thinking, as well as the skills associated with agroecology and soils laboratory work. Lab exercises will provide a hands-on introduction to agroecology through the case study of the wheat plant and to soil science by examining the physical, chemical and biological aspects of soil. Seminar will focus on U.S. agricultural issues including the impact of climate change and soil on human health using current scientific articles and books such as David Montgomery's What Your Food Ate. Day-long field trips will visit farms that are working toward sustainability.

Anticipated Credit Equivalencies: 

8* - Agroecology

8* - Soil Science


This is an advanced offering awarding upper division natural science credit.  Students should have a college level chemistry and biology course.

Course Reference Numbers
So - Sr (16): 30144

Academic Details

Farming, agricultural research, agricultural education, governmental agencies like Washington Department of Agriculture, non-profit food system and environment work.


$200 fee covers required lab fee ($100) and farm entrance fees ($100)

Up to 16 Upper Division Science credits are possible when upper division work is completed. 


In Person (S)

See definition of Hybrid, Remote, and In-Person instruction

Schedule Details
Organic Farmhouse


Date Revision
2024-02-08 Added Robin Morgan as faculty, program now open to SO, now 50 seats.