June 22, 2009

Can Hort 6002 credits apply to the Hort core? Here's one case:

I recently received an email from a student who has completed Hort 6001 and has an approved project. She needs to complete Hort 6002 and also needs one additional credit to fulfill the requirement for 15 core horticulture courses. Her question was whether she could set aside her project and take the problem solving version of Hort 6002 for 3 credits. This would allow her to complete 6002 and also pick up the the additional credit she needs to complete the Horticulture core.

My response was yes, I will approve that change to her program. In the past, the three credit 6001/6002 sequence was taken in addition to the 15 core horticulture credits, but in this case because she is completing the new problem solving version of the course (which is really 4 credits worth of effort) I will allow her to register for 3 credits and apply one of those credits toward her Horticulture core.

This flexibility in Hort 6002 credits applies only to students who entered the program prior to Fall '09 and who are navigating their way through the transition from the old program to the new program. New students who begin the program in Fall '09 are required to complete Hort 6002 for 4 credits, and in addition are required to complete 15 credits of Horticulture core, as well as 11 credits in related fields.

If you have similar or other questions, be sure to post comments to this blog or email me directly and we can work out a solution for your particular situation.

Make sure that you officially request changes to your program on a program revision form. You can obtain these forms from Evonne.



June 1, 2009

Only 3 credits for Hort 5090?

In a comment to the last posting, Lorinda Balfanz asked whether Hort 5090 Directed Studies could be taken for more than 3 credits. The current wording regarding Hort 5090 is as follows:

A maximum of 3 credits of Hort 5090 (Directed Studies) may be applied toward the minimum horticulture core course requirements; additional credits may be taken over and above the minimum requirements.

My interpretation is that you can still only apply 3 credits of Hort 5090 to the 15 required Horticulture credits, but the door is open for additional Hort 5090 credits to apply to the "related fields" requirement, in consultation with your adviser and me.

I recognize that the lack of evening and distance courses creates difficulty for many M. Ag. students who are working or are otherwise engaged during the "usual" 8am-4pm academic day. The standard response to this problem is for the department to encourage students to find the flexibility in their day to take these courses at their usual times. However, department head Emily Hoover and I realize this is an ongoing problem and are committed to increasing the number of evening and/or online courses offered by the department. Frankly this will take some years before we can offer a substantial part of the M.Ag. program in evening or online formats, if ever. Another approach may be to apply coursework from other universities to your M. Ag. degree. If you find graduate-level courses offered online or in evenings from other universities, you may be able to apply these to your program credits. Get written approval from me before enrolling in these courses so that we are both assured that the credits will contribute to your degree.

Thanks, Lorinda, for your question. I will bring this issue of Hort 5090 credits to my steering committee for further discussion.

- Tom

May 28, 2009

Questions about the Master of Agriculture in Horticulture

Initial questions and answers

On May 27, Emily Hoover, Jim Luby, Evonne Kuyper and I (Tom Michaels) met with M. Ag. students regarding changes to the M.Ag. program. Below is a summary of the questions that arose at the meeting.

Q. What are the changes to the program and how do they affect me?
A. Full detail about the program can be found at the M.Ag website.

The major programmatic change focuses on a shift in the required capstone experience from an integrating project to a new, collaborative problem solving experience. Formerly, the integrating project involved a two course sequence worth three credits:
* Hort 6001 (Master of Agriculture Project Planning; 1 credit)
* Hort 6002 (Master of Agriculture Project Implementation; 2 credits)

Effective immediately, Hort 6001 will no longer be offered or required in the M. Ag. Program. Hort 6002 has been retained, but the name has been changed to “Problem Solving in Horticulture” to reflect the shift from an independent project to a collaborative group problem solving experience, and the credit value has increased from 3 to 4 credits.

Q. Do I have to follow the new program or can I continue with my original plans?
A. If you were admitted prior to Fall 2009 you are “grandfathered in”, so you can follow the program as it was when you entered, or you can follow the new program, with the exception that Hort 6001 is no longer offered. It is your choice.

New students admitted to the M. Ag. Program for Fall 2009 and later will be required to complete Hort 6002 Problem Solving in Horticulture for 4 credits. Because the number of credits associated with this capstone experience has increased from 3 to 4, the number of related field credits required for new admits has decreased from 12 to 11.

Students admitted to the program prior to Fall 2009 have the option of either completing their integrating project as originally planned or setting aside their project plans and instead completing the new Hort 6002 Problem Solving course. Students who choose to complete their projects as originally planned will continue to work with their assigned adviser, register for Hort 6002 in the academic year in which they intend to complete their project, submit their integrating project paper and present a seminar. These students will be exempt from completing the coursework associated with the new Problem Solving course. The number of credits awarded for Hort 6002 in this case will range from 2-4 and will be determined in consultation with the Director of Grad Studies (currently me) so that students avoid paying for excess credits.

Students who choose to set aside their project plans will enroll in Hort 6002 and complete the new Problem Solving in Horticulture coursework. Again, the number of credits awarded for Hort 6002 will range from 2-4 and will be determined in consultation with the Director of Grad Studies with the goal of avoiding paying tuition for excess credits.

Q. When is Hort 6002 going to be offered next?
A. Hort 6002 will be offered once this upcoming academic year, in Fall 2009. The instructor will be Dr. Emily Hoover. The next offering will be in Fall 2010.

Q. I previously enrolled in Hort 6001 and 6002, but I have an incomplete for both. What options do I have?
A. Students who previously enrolled in Hort 6001 and/or Hort 6002, but now carry an I (incomplete), may complete the original requirements for those courses to resolve their incomplete. Alternatively, students carrying incompletes may choose to set aside their project plans altogether and complete the new Hort 6002 Problem Solving course to satisfy the requirements for resolving their incompletes. Students who choose this option and who previously registered for Hort 6002 are not required to register for Hort 6002 again, but if they intend to participate in the Hort 6002 in Fall 2009 they should notify Evonne Kuyper (kuype001@umn.edu, 612-624-4242) by July 15 so that the instructor knows how many students to expect in the course.

Q. What is the new Hort 6002 Problem Solving course going to be like?
A. This course is a collaborative problem-solving experience, designed and completed by the students with guidance from a faculty instructor. The purpose is to expose students to real-world problems in horticulture, have them identify the main biological, design and social and business sustainability issues related to the problems, and to develop solutions as an interdisciplinary team of scholars to address these problems. Students will identify a research problem in consultation with the instructor. Students will apply principles and methodologies they learned from coursework and their prior professional experience to address the problem. This may involve a mix of empirical research methods from the horticultural and other natural and social sciences, design and business analyses, as well as concepts and methods of societal deliberation and policy analysis.

The course will initially meet weekly for 3 hours to plan and start-up the research, then the students and instructor will develop a schedule of off-campus research visits with partners. Toward the end of the semester the class will return to weekly meetings for 3 hours to review drafts and finalize the students’ project portfolio. The instructor will convene students prior to the beginning of the semester to initiate selection of the focal problem and planning of logistics.

Q. Who is doing the program advising now?
A. If you have an adviser now and things are going well, then you may continue to work with that adviser. If your adviser has retired, or things aren’t going well, see the Director of Graduate Studies (currently me). If you are setting aside your project and have questions about how that affects your program, also see me. If you have administrative questions about your records, need to schedule a seminar or have general questions about the program, contact Evonne.

Q. How do I ask more questions?
A. Click on the “Comments” link at the bottom of this entry and ask your question. I prefer that you ask your questions in this forum because other readers can then benefit from reading your question and my answer. Your question and my answer will appear within 24 hours unless I am temporarily unavailable to respond immediately. If you have a pressing question that needs an immediate answer, send me an email (michaels@umn.edu) with M.Ag. in the subject line to get my attention.

Bye for now,


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