103-5 Moving Agronomic Pedagogy Beyond Disciplinary and Institutional Borders.
technological innovation to advance the production capacity of agricultural commodities in the face of biophysical challenges. While the past century of training in this field has contributed to substantial expansion of such production, current graduate training leaves important agroecological questions underdetermined. Many of these questions concern ‘wicked’ problems of 21st-century agriculture, which are characterized by uncertainty, multi-dimensional complexity, and the conflicting interests of multiple stakeholders. Examples include environmental externalities that impact non-agricultural ecosystems, production under climate change stressors, agricultural labor conditions, rural demographic changes, and legacies of racial and economic discrimination that limit opportunities for some farmers. Concomitantly, profound questions have been raised about the future of land grant agronomic education as a result of declines in federal funding and the growing role of public-private partnerships. This confluence of socio-environmental stressors and uncertainty within the university creates major challenges and opportunities for agronomic science. Transdisciplinary research and pedagogy founded on agroecological principles may provide effective means to address wicked problems, but implementation of these research strategies has been largely confined to interstitial academic spaces. In response, the authors (graduate students and faculty) are working to build a novel transdisciplinary learning and training environment. This program builds on a current agronomy graduate program using agroecological research models, but focuses on critical inquiry and praxis-oriented collaborative research models, and incorporates a structured space for students to build capacity in relational politics. We argue that cognizance of critical inquiry and attendance to praxis-oriented research models, along with capacity in relational politics are integral to addressing wicked problems in agronomy because they facilitate the development of collaborative structures across disparate and disjunctive ideologies, histories, and power relationships, thus promoting environmentally and socially sustainable agroecosystems and propelling relevant university engagement in the 21st century.