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Undergraduate Writing Promotes Student’s Understanding of International Sustainable Development in Horticulture

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Author(s): Neil O. Anderson | Julia A. Kelly

Journal: Sustainability
ISSN 2071-1050

Volume: 3;
Issue: 12;
Start page: 2470;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: sustainability | horticultural crop production | writing intensive learning | plant breeding

ABSTRACT
Promotion of undergraduate student thinking and learning in the realm of sustainable production is a new focus for horticulture curricula. In a writing intensive course, Greenhouse Management (Hort 3002W; University of Minnesota), students focus their learning of sustainability by writing peer-reviewed, 3-phase ‘Worldwide Sustainable Horticultural Crop Production Papers’ on past, present, and future prospects for sustainability. The USA is used as an in-class example throughout the semester while each student focuses their writing on a specific country of their choosing. Their papers focus on eight goals for each country across the three Phases: I—their choice of a country, definition of sustainability, identification of historical production practices, current production statistics; II—current production practices and integration of historical/current practices (ranked strategies); III—finalized sustainable development strategy, design of a future sustainable, controlled-environment production facility. The last two goals (Phase III) provide plant breeders with potential breeding objectives for country-specific cultivar development within a sustainable production framework. Completed papers are web-published for global availability to enable each country’s researchers and policy makers to access sustainable ideas for future development. In 2009–2010, ‘Worldwide Sustainable Horticultural Crop Production Papers’ were published for 41 countries which were downloaded 3900 times in 19 months through April 2011. This large readership indicates such an assignment can generate interest in either undergraduate writing about developing sustainable horticulture and/or the topic area itself, although the exact purpose of the downloads or the location of the users could not be determined.
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