The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is to help deliver a new undergraduate degree aimed at tackling concerns of food security and sustainability.

The BSc (Hons) in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security has been designed around facilities at the RVC and three other partner institutions in central Hertfordshire:

  • the University of Hertfordshire
  • Rothamsted Research
  • Oaklands College

The course, said the organisations, “places livestock production at the heart of thinking” about how we ensure the human population has a healthy and sustainable food supply in the future in the face of climate change, population growth and water shortages. It will, they say, integrate agricultural science with related subjects that impact on sustainability and food security, such as:

  • geo-politics
  • legislation and regulation
  • consumer pressures
  • economics
  • agroecology
  • environmental stewardship

Senior lecturer in production animal medicine at the RVC, Steven Van Winden, said there is a “clear national, cross-government priority in the area of food security and sustainability, which has, in turn, led to a requirement for active research and training in agriculture”.

“This course has been designed in consultation with employers to both meet this need and ensure graduates have the skills in demand by industry,” he said. “We also hope a course like this will attract new recruits to the agricultural industry.

“Agriculture provides nine per cent of employment in the UK and it is vital we continue to have skilled and knowledgeable graduates entering the profession who are prepared for the future challenges facing the industry.”

Tim Sands, programme tutor in the University of Hertfordshire’s School of Life and Medical Sciences, meanwhile, said the school’s “specialist teaching and environmental management expertise”, combined with more than 40 years of research into crop protection, would ensure graduates would be equipped with the knowledge and skills to “lead and inform” sustainable agriculture and food security.

Students on the course are to undertake compulsory integrated work placements based in research institutions and industry, as well as having the option to complete a year in industry or a year abroad.

The BSc (Hons) in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security forms part of the new Centre for Agriculture, Food and Environmental Management, which is to combine expertise from the four aforementioned partner institutions to lead research into issues affecting food production.

The course is now recruiting for 2014.

For more information and to apply, visit the RVC’s website.

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