Senior Capstone Class Syllabus


Project Development in Sustainable Food and Farming

SPRING  2015- 3 Credits


Dr. John M. Gerber, Professor

UMass Sustainable Food and Farming Program

308 Bowditch Hall

(413) 545-5301

Meeting time:  Thursday; 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Course Description: This course introduces students to the process of developing a project for presentation in the area of sustainable food and farming.  It requires a student to synthesize and integrate knowledge acquired in previous course work and other learning experiences (such as farm or non-profit internships) and to apply theory and principles in a situation that approximates some aspect of professional practice. This course will provide seniors an opportunity to study a practical and current sustainable food and/or farming problem, review the literature related to the problem, develop management tactics and strategies to address the problem, and communicate their conclusions with others.

Learning Objectives:

  • To develop a professional project in response to a real-world situation related to the long-term sustainability of food and farming systems.
  • To apply critical thinking, analysis, and communication skills that integrate the core academic areas of sustainable food and farming and to apply these skills to a specific problem of the student’s
  • To develop a plan including tactics and strategies to address a specific problem at the field, farm, community, state or national levels.
  • To learn to provide professional peer review to other students and communicate their conclusions with other learners in a professional setting.

Class:  Each student will develop a professional project in the area of sustainable food and farming.   Projects will address specific problems at the field, farm, community, state or national levels.  Each student will produce an abstract, a literature review, and a poster presentation describing an original sustainable food and farming project of their choosing.

The result will be a poster presentation at the Massachusetts Undergraduate Research Conference that provides a culminating experience for seniors.  2014 Conference Booklet.aaronsmilesSee more photos and abstracts from previous years:

Prerequisites:  STOCKSCH 265 Sustainable Agriculture  or permission of the instructor.

Grading Criteria:

Abstract                                                      = 20%

Poster Presentation                            = 50%

Participation and Attendance       = 25%

Massachusetts Undergraduate Research Conference Information

UMass Campus Center – April 24, 2015 (plan to be available all day)  Attendance at the Conference is required.   Your presentation will be an individual presentation using a poster format and we will request that all of our posters are presented at the same time.  If you cannot be here on this date, please drop the class NOW. 

Note: Abstracts MUST be submitted online for the conference, no later than midnight, Wednesday, February 11.

Weekly Schedule 2015

January 22 – Introductions and begin to create a learning community; refine research topic; create a mind map of your project; clarify title of your project

January 29First draft of your abstract ant title is due today in class

February 5 – Abstract review and approval

February 11 (Wednesday) – Draft abstract must be submitted to the Conference organizers by midnight (even if it is not done)

February 12 – Bring 3 copies of the submitted draft of abstract to class for review and feedback

February 19 – Research Planning

February 26 – Research

March 5 – Research

March 12 – First outline of poster is due on a powerpoint slide

March 19 – NO Class (Spring Break

March 26 – Research and poster design

April 2 – Poster printing

April 9 – Bring your draft poster to class to practice presentation

April 16 – Final poster should be printed

April 23 – Last class; evaluation and grading

Friday, April 24 – Undergraduate Research Conference (10:00am-5:00pm)



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