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More Than a Course

Posted on May 29, 2013 at 8:02 AM by Iowa Corn

PSC 516, Farm, is a May experience course at Furman University, a small private liberal arts college in Greenville, South Carolina.  Students participating in the Farm Experience receive college credit for 3 weeks on an Iowa farm in Radcliff, Iowa. Professor, Glen Halva-Neubauer wants the students to experience farm life, get their hands dirty and ask hard questions about our global food, hunger, and environmental systems.

It seems ironic that he ended up right where he started, but life has a funny way of doing that sometimes. As a kid, Halva Neubauer couldn’t wait to get away from the 200 acre grain and dairy farm in North Central Iowa. After graduation, he traveled to Iowa City and then onto other academic stops, landing in South Carolina at Furman University in political science. Iowa at the time, seemed a distant memory, but in the late 1990’s students and an appetite to understand agricultural policy led him right back home. Today, he continues to bring a couple lucky students to his family farm each year where his brother and sister keep the Century farm in production.

According to course documents, “the three-week course gives students the opportunity to meet those who are involved in agriculture in Iowa and learn about the changes in rural life in the 20th and 21st centuries as well as investigate some icons of a rural landscape that are gone—barns, farmhouses, country schools.  Through the stories of these Iowa farmers (including my own and those of my family), the students will leave with a better sense of this way of life and how it has changed over time.”

But, what isn’t listed in the course description is the unique opportunity for non-farm students to reach a better understanding about agriculture today by going straight to the source. During their time on the farm, they have the rare opportunity to touch baby pigs, drive a tractor and planter, look behind the scenes in the global grain and livestock markets, understand biotechnology, GPS, precision farming and so much more. Unfortunately, it is an opportunity that too few get today.

On Monday, May 20th, the group stopped by the Iowa Corn office to ask questions on policy, GMOs, new uses, and activism. With only a few short hours, it was hard to squeeze all the information in, but they were an inquisitive bunch and I have a hunch they will know right where to look for answers to their food system, farming, and production questions in the future.

Link to their WHO interviews below: 

Tagged As: Iowa Corn, PSC 516

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