If you’re majoring in a STEM field, that means your degree program falls under the umbrella of Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics. There is another letter that probably deserves a place in the STEM acronym, however: A for Ag.
According to the National Geographic Society, “Agriculture is the art and science of cultivating the soil, growing crops, and raising livestock. It includes the preparation of plant and animal products for people to use and their distribution to markets. Agriculture provides most of the world’s food and fabrics. Cotton, wool, and leather are all agricultural products.”
At many universities, agriculture — ag technology in particular — is becoming one of the biggest components of STEM-focused departments and disciplines. Furthermore, ag is putting the STEAM in STEM.
Why Ag should be part of STEM
Why should ag be a part of STEM? Here’s what the experts say…
“Agriculture definitely is in the STEM paradigm,” David Acker and Kevin Kimle, both prominent administrative and faculty members at Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, told AgFunderNews.
Penn State’s Tracy Hoover, associate dean for Undergraduate Education, and Jean Lonie director of Student Recruitment and Activities agree: “In some ways, agriculture is an umbrella that all the STEM fields fall under. The study of agriculture, food, and natural resources involves biology and genetics, engineering, physics, chemistry, math, geology/hydrology, and other scientific fields.”
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics have all helped improve agriculture. Danielle Tucker at AgCareers.com wrote “STEM is Agriculture” and lists the reasons why. Incidentally, degrees involving ag and natural resources are in the top five for beginning salaries and career earnings, right next to STEM degrees like engineering and computer science.
Why Ag is not part of STEM
On the other hand, some people disagree that ag is a part of STEM. Here’s what they say…
Claudia Adams at AgricultureLore.com says that agriculture is not a STEM field simply because it doesn’t fall under the umbrella of Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics. However, she does acknowledge that STEM know-how is used in agriculture. For example, drones are used in monitoring crop growth and crop production.
That being said, agriculture involves much more than just science and technology; it also integrates knowledge from business, economics, and other social sciences. So in that regard, calling it a STEM subject would be too limiting. When you think about it, ag can be a business, a science, AND an art.
Obviously there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the field of agriculture is quite diverse. However, many experts agree that ag is a STEM field, as it is involved in the production of food, fiber, and other plant- and animal-based products. The agricultural industry also plays a vital role in environmental stewardship.
So, what do you think? Should ag be considered a STEM field? Why or why not?