Southern Cross University has announced a new course in regenerative agriculture, responding to demand from students for skills and knowledge to address climate challenges and restore degraded landscapes left by traditional farming methods.
The Graduate Certificate in Regenerative Agriculture is now accepting enrolments for March, 2021. The course can be completed with six months of full-time study or one year of part-time study.
It follows this year’s highly successful launch of the University’s world-first Regenerative Agriculture degree – a Bachelor of Science with a major in Regenerative Agriculture – and the acknowledgement of Southern Cross University as Australia’s top agricultural university, rated number 1 in Australia for overall experience in Agriculture in the recent Good Universities Guide 2020/21.
The new hands-on postgraduate qualification is designed for students who wish to gain a higher-level understanding of underpinning philosophies and associated management practices of regenerative agriculture. It includes units on Ecological Perspectives for Transformational Change, Farming Systems, Soil Management for Biodiversity, and Building Resilience in a Changing Climate, through drought, fire and flood.
Regenerative Agriculture course coordinator Dr Hanabeth Luke said, “People with a range of more conventional agriculture qualifications are contacting us, expressing frustrations with some of the impacts of conventional farming practices over the long-term. They are seeking to understand what practices and approaches can enable farming to continue successfully into the future, while regenerating, rather than degrading, soils and landscapes.”
Dr Luke said by supporting and enhancing the living matter in our soil, regenerative agricultural practice draws down carbon from the atmosphere and into the soil, and can play a critical role in reducing climate-warming carbon levels in our atmosphere.
Student concern over accelerated climate change is a significant driver for demand in Southern Cross University’s regenerative agriculture courses, said Dr Luke.
One such regenerative agriculture student is farmer and former high school teacher Jennifer Ringbauer from Central West NSW. “I see regenerative agriculture as fundamental to the very survival of the human race: for food, for culture and for Earth,” she said.
“Agriculture is the number one way we can drawdown carbon from the atmosphere to negate climate change. This is pioneering science and such an incredibly exciting and exhilarating area to be studying right now,” Ms Ringbauer said.
For 37-year-old Northern Rivers farmer Louis Bell, who works in broad-scale landscape management, enrolling in the Graduate Certificate of Regenerative Agriculture was a natural study path after a career that straddled horticulture and conservation. “There are real opportunities to mitigate the poor practices which are resulting in deleterious impacts to our natural capital – we need to bridge the divide between conservation and production,” he said.
Members of Southern Cross University’s Regenerative Agriculture Alliance (RAA) said there was high demand from farmers seeking this kind of postgraduate qualification.
RAA founder and Southern Cross University Strategic Projects Director Lorraine Gordon said, “The way we teach agriculture hasn’t changed in 30 years. In its first year, the Bachelor of Science with a major in Regenerative Agriculture became the most popular agriculture degree in the country. This is part of a huge movement that demands we rethink the way we produce food and how we look after the very source that provides such food – our landscapes, our soils. Unfortunately, our track record to date hasn’t been great! We need a change in paradigm, a new narrative, and to recognise the role we play in ecological health.”
The Graduate Certificate of Regenerative Agriculture incudes on-farm field trips. Some units will be purely online, while others will have an on-campus option in Lismore.
More information about the Graduate Certificate in Regenerative Agriculture
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