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About the Department

The Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education was renamed after merging the former Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology and the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education in 2012. We invite you to learn about the three disciplines in the department and read our strategic plans.

Founded in 1923, the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology joined two distinct, yet closely related social science disciplines in common purpose, with Dr. Frederick P. Weaver as its first permanent head. The Department of Agricultural and Extension Education started with a course in teacher training in agriculture in the year 1910-11, with Thomas I. Mairs, professor of agricultural education, in charge.

To read more about the history of each department, please follow the links below.

- Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology

- Department of Agricultural and Extension Education

The scholarship in AESE is related to people, society, and economic systems grounded in theory and methods from the social, behavioral and economic sciences. Faculty and students develop and employ rigorous approaches to discover fundamental and applied principles that advance science in their core disciplines and improve the health, prosperity and welfare of people in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and beyond. The department offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees, some unique to the three core disciplines while others are organized along overarching themes.

The department has identified three thematic areas to guide our scholarship. "Agricultural and food systems" focuses on the interconnections among producers, distributors, regulators and consumers in a variety of issues related to food choices, markets, pollution and health. “Environment and natural resources” addresses the human impact on fundamental natural assets, such as land, water and air, tackling the challenges that growing populations create for economic efficiency, social equity and environmental sustainability. “Human, community and regional development” focuses on community resilience through civic engagement, leadership and entrepreneurship to support sustainable communities and regional economies. These three themes utilize the respective strengths of each of the three core disciplines while providing an overall collaborative framework for research scholarship, teaching and outreach.

The Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology programs, as well as the departmental main office are located in Armsby Building. The faculty of the Agricultural Extension Education program is in Ferguson Building.