Faculty of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences
Within the Department of Renewable Resources, there is a focus on research into environmentally sustainable agriculture. At a time when the economics of farming and of urban development could threaten our agriculture industry, it is crucial that long-term planning address the need for sustainable agriculture. Having an agricultural industry that is sustainable for the long run also means that the people involved steward the environment and ensure there are healthy agricultural and forest ecosystems. That means ensuring healthy soil and water quality, and the management of production and processes so as to promote growth while improving the state of the environment. Some of the research being done by the Department of Renewable Resources is in calculating a safe amount of manure and sewage sludge that can be spread on soils, and investigating the impact of fertilizer on soils and the environment. For more information about this important area of research, see the website.
With Alberta’s proud heritage of farming and ranching, it is natural for the University of Alberta to have a distinctive Faculty of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences. The Faculty of Agriculture came into being in 1915 and has produced graduates whose work complements and benefits the province’s rural roots and extends to agricultural pursuits across the nation.
Today, the Faculty has three areas of emphasis: agriculture, forestry, and home economics. These areas truly form the foundations of Alberta’s strong resource base and will continue to affect the province’s future. The study of natural resources such as water and soil complements the study of biological resources such as crops, forests, and animals. The study of human economics and resources draws on the individuals and communities that strive to build upon the traditions inherent in agriculture and forestry and to extend them, through academic study, into the future.
There are now close to 1,500 undergraduate and over 300 graduate students intent upon the study of what the Dean of the Faculty describes as the full spectrum from “material culture to silviculture; genetics to dietetics; and biotechnology to hydrology.” Students who graduate from the Faculty find jobs in these areas not only in Alberta, but also across the country, where their expertise is crucial for the growth of Canada's agriculture and agri-business industries.
The Faculty has a saying that well encapsulates the importance of the work done by agrologists, dieticians, food scientists, biologists, and foresters. They say that, without them, the rest of us would all be “naked, thirsty, hungry, and homeless.” From the study of textiles used to make clothing to the management of water for the growing of crops, sustaining forests, and processing and developing food; to the issues surrounding food safety and production; to the use of forested wood for habitat creation and the study of human families and communities, the Faculty of Agriculture, Forestry, and Home Economics studies, researches, and imparts knowledge about the meeting of our basic needs.
The Department of Human Ecology, responsible for ensuring that that we stay warm and clothed, presents an interdisciplinary, applied field of study of the interactions between humans and their different environments that includes textile science and apparel design. The Department is internationally recognized for its ability to integrate teaching and research in these exciting fields and in the areas of family life education, human sexuality, community stewardship, and sustainability. The Department offers a BSc with either of two majors: Family Ecology or Textiles and Clothing.
The Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science pioneered university research and study in these areas. As the first department of its kind in all of North America, it carries its traditions with panache, delivering programs that integrate research and teaching. There is no question that the agricultural sector is becoming increasingly knowledge driven; therefore, programs that emphasize plant and animal science, bio-resource engineering, and food sciences are timely. Students graduating from this department have marketable skills in sustainable agricultural production, value-added food processing, food safety, and health and nutrition.
The programs offered by the Department of Renewable Resources employ field work to study the management of landscapes and their resources. Students graduating from this department may earn a BSc in Environmental and Conservation Sciences, Forestry, or Forest Business Management
The Department of Rural Economy is devoted to the study of agricultural, forestry, and environmental issues. The programs offered by this department are geared toward research on socio-economic aspects of natural resource management. Because of the socio-economic aspect, the study is interdisciplinary, with social scientists working side-by-side with natural scientists. Students graduating from this department may earn a BSc degree in Agriculture and Forest Business Management, Environmental Economics and Policy, Human Dimensions of Resource Management, or Agricultural and Resource Economics. Masters and PhD graduate programs are offered in the areas of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Forest Economics, and Rural Sociology.
The Devonian Botanic Garden not only offers a display of gardens open to the public, but also exists as a centre for academic teaching and research into horticultural and environmental collections of plants and fungi. Species native to Alberta, as well as other species that are significant for their historical or medicinal purposes, are housed here.
People working in the agriculture industry are conscientious stewards of the land. If we are to feed billions of fellow human beings in the future, we must ensure that our ability to produce food is not compromised. That means protecting our precious land base. As agriculture continues to grow as an industry in the twenty-first century, the business component becomes much more critical. Marketers are no longer merely regional; they are often international and at the farm level.
Agriculture, in existence for thousands of years, is propelled forward into the twenty-first century through science and innovation and through conscientious stewardship of our precious natural resources. The economic impacts of agri-business have made agriculture and agri-business creators of globally-demanded products. Students at the University of Alberta work in one of the most exciting and traditional of fields at a time when satellite imagery, microscopic analysis of animal and plant tissues, and social understanding of human dynamics are changing our perspectives of the management and stewardship of agricultural and human ecology. Some of the exciting work done by graduate students in this faculty involve joint programs with the Faculty of Business.
Research areas within the Faculty include areas of economics related to the food industry, called agricultural and resource economics; forest economics, and rural sociology.
|Deans of the Faculty of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences|
|Deans of the Faculty of Agriculture, Forestry, and Home Economics|
|1996–2004||Ian N. Morrison|
|1993–1996||Edward W. Tyrchniewicz|
|Deans of the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry|
|1988–1993||Edward W. Tyrchniewicz|
|1983–1988||Roy Torgny Berg|
|1972–1975||Fenton Vincent MacHardy|
|Deans of the Faculty of Agriculture|
|1968–1972||Fenton Vincent MacHardy|
|1959–1968||C. Fred Bentley|
|1951–1959||Arthur Gilbert McCalla|
|1942–1950||Robert David Sinclair|
|1915–1940||Ernest Albert Howes|
|Deans of the Faculty of Home Economics|
|1986–1993||Eloise C. Murray|
|Directors of the School of Household Economics|