Opportunities for agriculture to solve global challenges are exploding. Whether it be the continued growth of genetically modified organisms or navigating the global economic situation, food is a key issue. At the same time, dynamic new media channels are redefining the field of communications. The Web, media fragmentation, and instant access to news have changed how we see the world and make decisions.
The intersection of these two dynamic trends creates the need for a special kind of communications person—one with a deep knowledge of agriculture, food, fiber, energy, the environment, community and national development, and the skill set to evolve and thrive in an ever-changing media environment.
The University of Illinois recognized the challenge and has created a robust academic program aimed at developing agricultural communicators for the future.
The need for these experts has never been greater. Our global agricultural economy presents communications challenges never before imagined. That—combined with ever-expanding media channels and the need to know more, faster than ever before—adds emphasis to the challenge of maintaining and strengthening the Agricultural Communications Program within a premier land grant university.
In April 2011 the Illinois Board of Higher Education approved a new major in Agricultural Communications that is jointly sponsored by the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and the College of Media. It is the most fully collaborative interdisciplinary partnership known to exist among colleges and universities that offer joint programs in agricultural journalism
and agricultural communications.
Students take part fully in both colleges, in terms of admissions, courses, learning resources, scholarships, student organizations, advisement and placement services, student awards, alumni status, and student representation. They are admitted to both colleges through a joint review of applications and, upon graduation, become alumni of both colleges.
The Program also oversees the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center housed in the ACES Library. It is a unique literature collection and information service. The collection includes agriculture-related communications in more than 90 countries and is expanding at the rate of about 100 documents a month.