A professional development climate course for sustainable agriculture in Australia
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George, DA and Clewett, JF and Birch, CJ and Wright, AH and Allen, WR, A professional development climate course for sustainable agriculture in Australia, Environmental Education Research, 15, (4) pp. 417-441. ISSN 1350-4622 (2009) [Refereed Article]
There are few professional development courses in Australia for the rural sector concerned with climate variability, climate change and sustainable agriculture. The lack of educators with a sound technical background in climate science and its applications in agriculture prevents the delivery of courses either stand-alone or embedded in other courses, and adversely affects the ability of graduating students to apply climate information. This paper presents evidence from a professional development climate course with 20 professional educators and consultants and results from: surveys at the training workshop; from a questionnaire 12 months post-workshop; and a combined interview and survey two years post-workshop. The key finding was that professional development courses specifically addressing climate are essential, while topics should include climate and weather, the impacts of climate on agricultural systems, strategic thinking and planning options available for business. A project undertaken by professionals delivering climate education helped to improve their skills and confidence to deliver other stand-alone climate courses or to embed climate in existing courses. The paper proposes that a suitable resource manual should be ‘problem-based’ in its design to allow for a broad range of geographic climates, and should address a wide range of agricultural enterprises including livestock production, horticulture and cropping. The authors also propose ways to introduce and integrate applied climate knowledge and skills into the wider community. Possible progress for inter-disciplinary education and the implications from enhancing learning about climate for sustainable agriculture are discussed. © 2009, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
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