There was considerable concern about the direction of soil science education in the USA at the beginning of the 21st century, particularly in regards to declining enrollment. However, there is very little work looking at enrollment trends in individual classes or evaluating the academic majors of students who are taking soil science coursework.
In the March-April issue of the Soil Science Society of America Journal researchers report on trends in total student enrollment and enrollment by academic major for the 2009 to 2013 academic years at 10 universities in the USA that offer degree programs that prepare students to work as soil scientists.
The team found that overall enrollment had increased in all classes investigated except soil physics. The greatest growth in enrollment was seen for students majoring in environmental science, engineering, and other agricultural degrees. The enrollment of agronomy/crop science/horticulture and soil science students declined.
While agricultural students will always be important enrollees in soil science courses, this study supports the idea that soil scientists need to step beyond the traditional agricultural student base if we are going to grow enrollment in soil science courses and, by extension, grow soil science as a field.
Read the full article in SSSAJ. Free preview May 7 - 14