2013-2018

Departmental Emphasis

The Department of Agricultural Leadership and Community Education is a social science unit in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech dedicated to advancing the priorities of the university and the college through applied social sciences, emphasizing teaching and learning in agriculture, leadership and social change, and community education and development.

Departmental Priorities

Faculty and staff in ALCE both lead social science teaching, research and outreach efforts as well as serve in valuable collaboration roles with partners across the college, the campus, Virginia and the world.

The department has identified three priority areas to invest in for the next five years.  The priority areas are:

  1. Leader development across the lifespan
  2. STEM integration in agriculture and life sciences.
  3. Community viability.

While we focus on the development of these priority areas, we continue to serve our stakeholders through the goals and strategies outlined herein.
 

Departmental Goals and Strategies

Goal 1: Provide a quality undergraduate and graduate educational experience.

Goal 2: Enhance discovery and translation of knowledge to address the social science issues in agriculture and life sciences.

Goal 3: Develop and disseminate science-based knowledge and innovative services through engagement with stakeholders and partners

Goal 4: Create a stable and sustainable resource portfolio for the department and seek continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness
 

Goal 1: Provide a quality undergraduate and graduate educational experience.

Strategy 1.1: Transform the undergraduate program to provide a contemporary agriculture and life science experience

Priority Actions:  

  • Adopt new bachelor of science curriculum for 2016 program completers.
  • Grow the leadership and social change minor.
  • Expand collaboration with Civic Agriculture and Food Systems minor.
  • Provide and support experiential-based learning opportunities (i.g. AgVocacy, internships, undergraduate research in departmental priority areas).
  • Emphasize and fund undergraduate recruitment and retention.

Strategy 1.2: Implement an operational plan that promotes growth of the graduate program.

Priority Actions:

  • Outline annual projected student enrollment and specific recruitment strategies for all program options (PhD, MS, MALS, and CTE).
  • Develop a protocol for graduate financial support to include job descriptions for recurring assistantships, a marketing plan, and procedures for student selection.
  • Develop an incentive program for faculty to match external funds for graduate assistantships.
  • Identify online courses to be delivered in blended and synchronous learning formats.
  • Outline strategies for increasing growth of graduate certificates in “collaborative community leadership” and the newly proposed “problem solving for leading change.”
  • Explore graduate education opportunities with other departments and agencies (e.g. OIRED) to develop and offer innovative graduate programs.
     

Goal 2: Enhance discovery and translation of knowledge to address the social science issues in agriculture and life sciences.

Strategy 2.1:   Support research and methodology development for interdisciplinary scholarship in agriculture and life sciences.

Priority Actions:

  • Promote and provide community-based participatory research (CBPR) practices and collaborations within VT and beyond.
  • Test theoretical and practical components of the social change model of leadership.
  • Promote and provide undergraduate research opportunities.
  • Address social science issues and broad issues at the intersection of discovery and implementation in a social system.

Strategy 2.2:  Build collaborative relationships with departments and entities at Virginia Tech and beyond.

Priority Actions:

  • Enhance collaboration for STEM integration.
  • Enhance collaboration for community viability.
  • Enhance collaboration for leadership and social change.

Strategy 2.3:   Enhance scholarship portfolio in the area of community food systems.

Priority Actions:

  • Continue growth in interdisciplinary research programming to address the economic, environmental, and social aspects community food security.
  • Provide leadership in CALS for conducting food system assessments as a tool for community viability.
  • Invest in scholarship with VCE Community Viability program.

Strategy 2.4:   Enhance scholarship portfolio in the area of STEM teaching and learning in agricultural education.

Priority Actions:

  • Develop a research program to support and examine the STEM integration efforts in community education, 4-H, and secondary schools.
  • Develop a research program to support and examine faculty development of STEM teaching practices.
  • Expand research program around teaching and learning of the nature of science in the context of agriculture.

Strategy 2.5: Enhance scholarship in the international area of Agricultural Education and Training (AET).

Priority Actions

  • Partner with OIRED in developing AET materials and training.
  • Advance the scholarship of international AET.
     

Goal 3: Develop and disseminate science-based knowledge and innovative services through engagement with stakeholders and partners

Strategy 3.1: Develop and implement a model for leader development across the lifespan.

Priority Actions:

  • Propose framework to internal and external stakeholders.
  • Map existing courses and programs to the proposed model.
  • Pilot research to test components of the model.

Strategy 3.2: Build capacity for STEM integration in secondary agriculture science programs.

Priority Actions: 

  • Continue efforts to promote the use of STEM teaching strategies in the pre-service program.
  • Assist secondary teachers in the development of contemporary curriculum that emphasizes STEM integration in agricultural science content.
  • Assist 4-H faculty and staff in the development of contemporary curriculum that emphasizes STEM integration in agricultural science content.
  • Develop programs to integrate agriculture into existing STEM academic courses in urban schools.
  • Develop a sustained summer STEM research experience for secondary students.

Strategy 3.3:  Enhance training and program development for beginning farmers.    

Priority Actions:

  • Continue the development of the Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Program as a signature program.
  • Expand integrated (research and extension) beginning farmer programming through collaborations with local, regional, and federal organizations, universities, and agencies.
  • Explore collective impact of expanded integration efforts.

Strategy 3.4:  Provide adult and community-based education to agricultural and Extension professionals in Virginia and beyond.

Priority Actions:

  • Invest in professional development for Extension, agriculture teacher, and non-profit sector stakeholders to improve program development and training and skills.
  • Continue to support adult leadership development through VALOR as a signature program.
  • Provide program evaluation expertise for CALS, VT, and beyond.  

Strategy 3.5: Build capacity for implementing contemporary STEM teaching practices in CALS.

Priority Actions: 

  • Develop modules for STEM teaching strategies within the CALS Graduate Teaching Scholars program.
  • Develop continuing professional education programs to address faculty needs for teaching method development.
  • Partner with Virginia Cooperative Extension to enhance their STEM-related programming.
     

Goal 4: Create a stable and sustainable resource portfolio for the department and seek continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness.

Strategy 4.1: Enhance public and private identity and branding.

Priority Actions:

  • Change department name to reflect emphasis areas and expertise within the department.  Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education.
  • Partner with CALS communication office to develop a communication plan that highlights innovative models of instruction, discovery, and outreach by faculty and students utilizing multimedia platforms.
  • Seek partnership with Farm Bureau and other stakeholder groups to promote agricultural literacy.
  • Update department’s website.

Strategy 4.2:  Develop sustained support and resources to support research and program initiatives.

Priority Actions:

  • Secure permanent funding from Virginia Tech’s Division of Student Affairs for co-curricular leadership programming.
  • Seek external funding from USDA-NIFA and NSF to support the STEM research program.
  • Promote and market our potential as a value-added resource for grants and contracts.