Teaching – Hoagland Lab


Currently teaching:

Introduction to Urban Agriculture (SFS/HORT31200; taught every fall)

The world is undergoing the largest wave of urban growth in history and over half the population now lives in urban areas. Urbanization can result in food insecurity because of rising food prices, dominance of convenience stores and fast food chains, growing dependence of cities on food imports, and challenges posed by climate change (www. ruaf.org). Urban agriculture is widely cited as a potential strategy to overcome these challenges by enhancing access of the urban poor to nutritious food, generating (self-) employment and income, reconnecting consumers with their food supply, reducing food miles, and decreasing the ecological footprint of cities. This form or production is also widely credited for its potential to reconnect local communities and reduce urban blight. However, the benefits of urban agriculture may not be as straightforward as they might seem. This new undergraduate module provides students with an overview of the opportunities and challenges associated with farming in urban environments. Topics include site selection and zoning, food sovereignty and food deserts, basic organic gardening and permaculture principles, and community engagement activities. Students review case studies of urban agriculture in the U.S. and developing countries to gain insight into the practical application and benefits of these emerging systems. This course directly supports the new Sustainable Food and Farming Systems Major.

The Plant Microbiome (HORT52500; taught in spring, even years)

Recent studies have provided evidence that plants are colonized by an abundant and diverse assortment of microorganisms. Consequently, the concept of what constitutes a plant has been redefined and plants are now perceived as a “metaorganism” or “holobiont”, and the dynamic community of microbes interacting with plants is referred to as its “microbiome”. Some of these microbes are pathogens, that negatively affect plants and in some cases even human health, whereas many others are beneficial, helping plants acquire water and nutrients and withstand biotic and abiotic stress. The plant microbiome is  now widely regarded as a key determinant of plant health and interest in learning how to manipulate these communities to increase plant productivity is growing rapidly. The application of new genomic and other “omics” based tools has greatly expanded knowledge of these complex plant-microbial relationships, yet many important questions remain unanswered. This graduate course provides an overview of what is currently known about environmental and plant factors regulating microbial community assembly and activity, along with latest methods being used to generate further insights into these dynamic relationships. Critical reviews of scientific papers and development of a grant proposal help students gain the knowledge needed to conduct research in this rapidly emerging research field.

Agricultural, Environmental and Community Sustainability in Costa Rica (Spring Break 2019)

This experiential educational opportunity is intended to be an “introduction” to international travel and study abroad for agricultural students. During this 8-day trip, students will tour pineapple, banana, chocolate and coffee plantations and processing plants; participate in professional guided rainforest hikes and whitewater rafting trips; visit and learn about tropical livestock production, fair-trade co-ops and Costa Rican Wildlife and Conservation efforts; bask in the beauty of the Arenal Volcano; experience local culture through Agro/Ecotourism; snorkel a coral reef; learn about environmental challenges and initiatives; meet local students; and much more!

Agroecology Field Course in Colombia (new study abroad course coming summer 2020)

A germplasm bank for Achira at an AgroSavia (formerly Corpoica) research station near Rio Negro, Colombia. Achira is a rhizome (root) crop native to the lower elevations of the Andes, that is related to decorative Cannas that are commonly grown in the U.S.

This new study abroad course will introduce students to the opportunities and challenges associated with the agricultural industry in Colombia, which is changing rapidly following the conclusion of a decades long civil war. Dr. Hoagland is collaborating with faculty in Engineering and Liberal Arts to develop this new course, so that in addition to learning about how the principles of ecology can be applied to develop more productive and sustainable systems, they will also learn about the importance of local cultures in these initiatives, and how new technological innovations can contribute to the development of these systems.

Previously taught:

Plant Propagation (HORT201; taught every spring 2010-2014) This course provided students with an overview of plant propagation and highlighted relevant applications in horticulture and landscape architecture. Lectures focused on developing student understanding of the biological principles underlying propagation techniques, and laboratory exercises provided students with hands-on opportunities to practice these techniques. Many of the laboratory exercises were updated to support the new Sustainable and Food Systems Major, such as those focusing on vegetable grafting and seed saving activities.