2009 Teaching and Learning Symposium

2:30-4:30 p.m., April 21, 2009
HUB Ballroom

Session Description



Growing Sustainability – Learning on the UFarm

Elizabeth Wheat (Biology)

As students explore their collective global impacts and impact small decisions can make in an ecological footprint, many ask, “What options do I have to help make a concrete difference?" The Ufarm is a small campus farm located on the University of Washington campus. Its mission is to support and promote sustainable urban agriculture. From small beginnings it has grown to approximately 150 student members. Since its inception the Ufarm has been connected with the ecology courses at the biology department, but it has become a model outdoor classroom for professors from other departments as well. The Ufarm allows professors to directly connect students with how they can become involved in changing their relationship with food. Who are the students involved in the Ufarm? How does it transform their understanding of ecology, human communities, and global justice?

This presentation explores the learning that occurs on the Ufarm through two perspectives: that of student farm volunteers and that of students in classes which use the U.W. farm. We examine courses from several departments which have used the UFarm to help students better understand complex relationships. We report findings from a student survey in which farm volunteers identify why they have become involved at the Ufarm, and how being involved has impacted their educational path. Our work demonstrates that students appreciate the simple connection between food choices and sustainability as it is modeled at the Ufarm. It suggests that combining in class learning with practical out of class experiences can be a powerful way to help students connect the theory with the practice of sustainability.


Index of Symposium Presenters