Montana State University
MSU Catalog > Sustainable Food & Bioenergy Systems

Sustainable Food & Bioenergy Systems


This program is a unique interdisciplinary curriculum designed for students interested in the interconnected processes of crop production, processing, distribution, and utilization of food and bioenergy. The degree focuses on ecologically sound, socially just, and economically viable farming methods, food and health, and related food and bioenergy system topics. Students work closely with faculty to gain hands-on experience enhancing practical skills and knowledge, and in specific, self-selected focus areas through internships. The degree plan is intended to encompass a wide range of food- and bioenergy-related areas in order to prepare students for career opportunities in agricultural business, public health and community food security, natural resource conservation, bioenergy production, marketing, distribution, and local food systems.

Sustainable Food Systems Option

The Sustainable Food Systems Option draws from both the physical and social sciences in the areas of food and nutrition, family and consumer sciences, plant sciences, environmental sciences, ecology, sociology, and political science. Emphasis in this option is on health and consumer issues related to food production and food systems. Students gain hands-on experience in culinary fundamentals and management, organic gardening, and independent research projects. Internships are designed to provide experience with food processing, food cooperative management, alternative food distribution systems, and small business operations. Having a better understanding of the interconnections among food production, food policy, food security and health, helps prepare graduates capable of addressing interdisciplinary food system problems such as obesity, food insecurity and poverty, food safety, and loss of indigenous foods, among others.

Career Opportunities

Graduates from this option are prepared for careers in community nutrition, community food security, public health, Extension education, food and nutrition policy and education, food enterprise, culinary arts and management, community supported agriculture, food processing, food marketing, retailing and distribution.

Agroecology Option

Agroecology explores how crops and pest organisms interact with their environment, and the application of technology to efficiently and sustainability produce crops. Agroecology focuses on application of principles of population and community ecology, as well as environmental science, to cropland ecosystems. The curriculum is based on the philosophy that to be able to successfully predict management outcomes and thus make informed recommendations, one must understand fundamental principles of evolution, ecology, soil science, agronomy, and pest management.

The curriculum originates from a base in biological science which includes a broad knowledge of organisms (including plants, animals and microorganisms) and the physical and chemical characteristics of environments. In the Agroecology curriculum, students will develop a knowledge of the diversity of organisms and how they interact in natural and managed ecosystems. Furthermore, the curriculum will build on this knowledge in courses that demonstrate the application of ecology and environmental science principles. Students will also learn how new technologies like remote sensing and geographic information systems are modernizing agriculture. In later stages of the curriculum, students may select from an array of upper division courses in natural ecosystems, cropping systems, pest management, applied ecology, and policy and planning that enable them to specialize in food or bioenergy-related areas best suited to their own career vision.

Career Opportunities

Graduates from this option find careers in environmental industries and consulting firms that solve problems associated with agroecosystems or agricultural practices; government jobs in environmental management and policy making; agricultural industry positions associated with precision agriculture, pest management, general agronomy, and information services. Students will be prepared for graduate training that leads to independent research in basic and applied ecology, environmental biology, cropping systems, precision agriculture, ecologically-based pest management, or weed science.

Sustainable Crop Production Option

Where does our food come from? Are there ways to sustainability maintain production levels and yet protect our natural resources? Is it possible to improve the quality and nutrition of our food supply? Are local food systems a viable alternative to corporate agricultural production? Can crops grown for bioenergy production reduce our use of fossil fuels and lessen carbon dioxide emissions? The answers to these questions and many more are discovered by students in the Sustainable Crop Production Option. The curriculum is designed to acquaint students with a broad range of principles and issues in sustainable crop production, including soil fertility, plant physiology, greenhouse production, pest management, and small business management. Both large- and small-scale food and bioenergy production systems are examined.

Career Opportunities

Graduates from this option are prepared for careers in agricultural production, community nutrition, community food security, public health, Extension education, food and nutrition policy and education, food enterprise, culinary arts and management, community supported agriculture, food processing, food marketing, retailing and distribution.

Sustainable Livestock Production Option

Sustainable Livestock Production focuses on the biological understanding of animal agriculture and its continued presence in sustainable grazing systems as well as its potential role in sustainable farming systems. Students will be introduced to the principles, practices and issues impacting the production, processing and preservation of safe, wholesome, nutritious, and palatable meat along with the regulatory requirements for selling animal products. Sustainable Livestock Production focuses on the science of animal production, but expands student learning to a larger systems understanding to the role of domestic livestock in sustainable systems. In addition, students will be exposed to the role of strategic grazing in landscape management as well as using livestock to manage potential waste streams from other industries.

Career Opportunities

Graduates from this option are prepared for careers in both the production and allied industries associated with animal agriculture and will also prepare the student for opportunities in extension and graduate work.


Curricula in Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems


Sustainable Food Systems Option

Health and Human Development

Freshman Year Credits
SFBS 146--Intro to Sustain Food & Bioenergy Systems 3
BIOB 170IN--Principles of Biological Diversity 4
ECNS 101IS--Econ Way Thinking 3
BIOB 110CS--Introduction to Plant Biology 3
Take one of the following:
     CHMY 121IN--Intro to General Chemistry 4
     CHMY 141--College Chemistry I 4
Take one of the following:
     M 121--College Algebra 3
     M 145Q--Mathematics for Liberal Arts 3
SOCI 101IS--Intro to Sociology 3
Take one of the following:
     SFBS 296--Towne's Harvest Practicum 3
     SFBS 298--Internship 3
University Core and Electives 4
30
Sophomore Year Credits
FCS 239--Contemp Cons Issues 3
NUTR 221CS--Basic Human Nutrition 3
NUTR 226--Food Fundamentals 3
NUTR 227--Food Fundamentals Lab 2
ENSC 110--Land Resource & Environmental Sciences 3
BIOM 103IN--Unseen Universe: Microbes 4
AGSC 341--Field Crop Production 3
Take one of the following:
     BIOB 318--Biometry 3
     STAT 216Q--Introduction to Statistics 3
Take one of the following:
     HORT 245--Plant Propagation 3
     NASX 232D--Montana Indians:Cult,Hist,Current Issues 3
     PSCI 230D--Intro Intl Relations 3
University Core and Electives 4
30
Junior Year Credits
ECHM 205--Energy & Sustainability 3
FCS 371--Res Methods 3
NUTR 322--Food Service Systems Mgmt 3
NUTR 395--Practicum: Quantity Foods Prod & Mgmt 3
NUTR 351--Nutrition & Society 3
ENSC 245IN--Soils 3
AGSC 428--Sustainable Cropping Systems 3
Take two of the following:
     AGBE 315--Ag in Global Context 3
     AGED 353--Coop Business Princ & Prac 3
     ANSC 222--Livestock in Sustainable Systems 3
     HORT 343--Commercial Plant Production 3
     HORT 345--Organic Market Gardening 3
University Core and Electives 3
30
Senior Year Credits
Take one of the following:
     SFBS 429--Small Bus Entre Food Hlth 3
     BMGT 469--Com Soc Entrepreneurship 3
NUTR 321--Nutrition in the Lifecycle 3
Take one of the following:
     SFBS 445R--Culinary Marketing: Farm to Table 3
     SFBS 451R--Sustainable Food Systems 3
SFBS 498--Internship 3
SFBS 499--Senior Thesis/Capstone 3
Take one of the following:
     NASX 415--Native Food Systems 3
     PSCI 436--Politics of Food & Hunger 3
Take two of the following:
     AGBE 337--Agricultural Law 3
     AGED 482--Nonformal Teaching Methods in Ag 3
     AGSC 465--Health, Ag and Poverty 3
     HORT 337--Veg Production 3
     NRSM 421--Holistic Thought 4
     PSCI 406--The Political Economy of Energy 3
University Core and Electives 5-6
30

Agroecology Option

Land Resources and Environmental Sciences

Freshman Year Credits
SFBS 146--Intro SFBS Seminar 3
BIOB 170IN--Principles Biological Diversity 4
BIOB 160--Principles of Living Systems 4
BIOB 110CS--Introduction to Plant Biology 3
CHMY 141--College Chemistry I 4
CHMY 143--College Chemistry II 4
ENSC 110--Land Resource & Environmental Sciences 3
Take one of the following:
     M 121--College Algebra 3
     M 145Q--Mathematics for Liberal Arts 3
University Core and Electives 2
30
Sophomore Year Credits
ECNS 101IS--Econ Way of Thinking 3
NUTR 221CS--Basic Human Nutrition 3
Take one of the following:
     BCH 104RN--Biochem of Health 4
     CHMY 123--Intro to Organic & Biochem 4
     CHMY 211--Elements of Organic Chem 4
ENSC 245IN--Soils 3
Take one of the following:
     SFBS 298--Internship 3
     SFBS 296--Towne's Harvest Practicum 3
Take one of the following:
     BIOB 318--Biometry 3
     STAT 216Q--Introduction to Statistics 3
Take one of the following:
     NASX 232D--Montana Indians:Cult,Hist,Current Issues 3
     PSCI 230D--Intro to International Rel 3
Take two of the following:
     AGBE 210IS--Econ Ag Business 3
     ANSC 222--Livestock in Sustainable Syst 3
     BIOM 360--Gen Microbiology 5
     BIOO 262IN--Intro to Entomology 3
     ECNS 204IS--Microeconomics 3
     GPHY 111CS--Intro to Phys Geography 3
University Core and Electives 0-2
30
Junior Year Credits
ECHM 205--Energy & Sustainability 3
AGSC 341--Field Crop Production 3
BIOB 375--General Genetics 3
NUTR 351--Nutrition & Society 3
ENSC 351--Nutrient Cycling 3
AGSC 428--Crop Sys Sust Agriculture 3
Take two of the following:
     AGBE 315--Ag in Global Context 3
     ENSC 468--Biogeochemistry 3
     HORT 345--Organic Market Gardening 3
     HORT 337--Vegetable Production 3
     NRSM 421--Holistic Thought Mgmt 4
University Core and Electives 5-6
30
Senior Year Credits
Take one of the following:
     SFBS 429--Small Bus Entre Food Hlth 3
     BMGT 469--Com Soc Entrepreneurship 3
Take one of the following:
     SFBS 445R--Culinary Marketing: Farm to Table 3
     SFBS 451--Sustainable Food Systems 3
ENSC 443--Weed Ecology & Mgmt 3
BIOM 421--Concepts of Plant Pathology 3
Take two of the following:
     BIOO 433--Plant Physiology 3
     AGSC 401--Integrated Pest Management 3
     BIOM 452--Soil & Environ Microbiology 3
     NASX 415--Native Food Systems 3
     PSCI 436--Politics of Food and Hunger 3
     PSCI 406--The Political Economy of Energy 3
SFBS 498--Internship 3
SFBS 499--Capstone 3
University Core and Electives 3
30

Sustainable Crop Production Option

Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology

Freshman Year Credits
SFBS 146--Intro Sust Food/Bioenergy System 3
BIOB 170IN--Princpls Biological Diversity 4
ECNS 101IS--Econ Way Thinking 3
BIOB 110CS--Introduction to Plant Biology 3
ENSC 110--Land Resource & Environmental Sciences 3
ENSC 245IN--Soils 3
Take one of the following:
     CHMY 121IN--Intro to General Chemistry 4
     CHMY 141--College Chemistry I 4
Take one of the following:
     M 121--College Algebra 3
     M 145Q--Math for Liberal Arts 3
University Core and Electives 4
30
Sophomore Year Credits
Take one of the following:
     SFBS 296--Practicum: Towne's Harvest 3
     SFBS 298--Internship 3
NUTR 221CS--Basic Human Nutrition 3
AGSC 341--Field Crop Production 3
BIOM 103IN--Unseen Universe:Microbes 3
HORT 105--Miracle Growing 3
Take one of the following:
     NASX 232D--Montana Indians:Cult,Hist,Current Issues 3
     PSCI 230D--Intro to International Relations 3
Take one of the following:
     BIOB 318--Biometry 3
     STAT 216Q--Introduction to Statistics 3
Take one of the following:
     AGBE 210IS--Econ Ag Business 3
     ANSC 222--Livestock in Sustainable Syst 3
     ECNS 204IS--Microeconomics 3
University Core and Electives 5
30
Junior Year Credits
ECHM 205--Energy & Sustainability 3
BIOE 370--General Ecology 4
FCS 239--Contemp Consumer Issues 3
NUTR 351--Nutrition and Society 3
AGSC 428--Crop Sys Sust Agriculture 3
Take two of the following:
     AGBE 315--Ag in Global Context 3
     HORT 345--Organic Market Gardening 3
     HORT 337--Vegetable Production 3
     NRSM 421--Holistic Thought 4
     NUTR 322--Food Service Systems Mgmt 3
     NUTR 395--Practicum: Quantity Foods Prod & Mgmt 3
University Core and Electives 2-3
30
Senior Year Credits
     SFBS 498--Internship 3
     SFBS 499--Capstone 3
Take one of the following:  
     SFBS 429--Small Bus Entre Food Hlth 3
     BMGT 469--Com Soc Entrepreneurship 3
Take one of the following:
     SFBS 445R--Sustainable Food Systems 3
     SFBS 451R--Culinary Marketing: Farm to Table 3
Take five of the following:
     NASX 415--Native Food Systems 3
     PSCI 436--Politics of Food & Hunger 3
     ENSC 351--Nutrient Cycling 3
     AGSC 401--Integrated Pest Management 3
     ENSC 443--Weed Ecology 3
     HORT 245--Plant Propagation 3
     AGSC 342--Forages 3
     BIOM 421--Concepts of Plant Pathology 3
     AGSC 450--Plant Disease Control 3
     AGSC 441--Plant Breeding and Genetics 3
     PSCI 406 --The Political Economy of Energy 3
University Core and Electives 3
30

Sustainable Livestock Production Option

Animal and Range Sciences

Freshman Year Credits
ANSC 100--Intro to Animal Science 3
NRSM 101--Natural Resource Conservation 3
NRSM 102--Montana Range Plants Lab 1
SFBS 146--Intro Sustainable Food/Bioenergy 3
BIOB 160--Principles of Living Systems 4
CHMY 121IN--Intro to General Chemistry I 4
ENSC 110--Land Resource & Environmental Sciences 3
BIOB 110CS--Introduction to Plant Biology 3
WRIT 101W--College Writing 3
Take one of the following:
     AGED 140US--Leadership Dev for Ag and Ind Employee 3
     COM 110US--Public Communication 3
Total 30
Sophomore Year Credits
ANSC 222--Livestock in Sustainable Syst 3
CHMY 123--Intro to Organic & Biochem I 4
NUTR 221CS--Basic Human Nutrition 3
ENSC 245IN--Soils 3
ANSC 265--Funct Anatomy Domestic Animal 3
ANSC 266--Funct Anatomy Domestic Animal Lab 1
Take one of the following:
     ANSC 205--Intro to Meat Evaluation 2
     ANSC 232--Livestock Management-Sheep 1
     ANSC 234--Livestock Mgmt-Beef 1
     NRSM 235--Range/Pasture Monitoring 1
Take one of the following:
     BMGT 205--Professional Communication Fundamentals 3
     WRIT 221--Intermediate Tech Writing 3
ECNS 101IS--Economic Way of Thinking 3
STAT 216Q--Introduction to Statistics 3
Total 30
Junior Year Credits
AGBE 210IS--Economics of Ag Business 3
ANSC 316--Meat Science 3
ECHM 205CS--Energy & Sustainability 3
Take two of the following:
     ANSC 320--Animal Nutrition 4
     ANSC 321--Physiology of Reproduction 4
     ANSC 322--Principles of Animal Breeding/Genetics 3
     ANSC 337--Diseases of Domestic Livestock 3
Take one of the following:
     ECNS 202--Prin of Macroeconomics 3
     ECNS 204IS--Microeconomics 3
Take one of the following:
     AGBE 321--Econ of Ag Marketing 3
     AGBE 337--Ag Law 3
     AGBE 345--Ag Finance & Credit Analysis 3
     AGED 353--Co-op Bus Prin & Pract 3
     BMGT 335--Mgmt & Organization 3
     BGEN 361--Intro to Law 3
     BMKT 325--Marketing 3
Take one of the following:
     NRSM 353--Grazing Ecology & Mgmt 3
     AGSC 428--Sustainable Cropping Systems 3
     AGSC 341--Field Crop Production 3
     AGSC 342--Forages 3
Take one of the following:
     BMKT 242D--Intro to Global Markets 3
     NASX 232D --Montana Indians: Culture, Hist, Curr Issues 3
     PSCI 230D--Intro Intrnl Relations 3
University Core (IA or IH) 3
Total 30
Senior Year Credits
ANSC 416R--Meat Processing 4
ANSC 498 --Internship 3
NUTR 351--Nutrition and Society 3
SFBS 499 --Capstone 3
Take one of the following:
     SFBS 445R--Culinary Marketing: Farm to Table 3
     SFBS 451R--Sustainable Food Systems 3
Take one of the following:
     ANSC 432--Sheep Management 3
     ANSC 434R--Beef Cattle Management 4
Take one of the following:
     ANSC 410--Veterinary Ento 2
     ENSC 351--Nutrient Cycling 3
     AGSC 401--Integrated Pest Mgmt 3
     ENSC 443--Weed Ecology 3
Take one of the following:
     SFBS 429-- Small Bus Entre Food Hlth 3
     SFBS 445R--Culinary Marketing:Farm to Table 3
     NRSM 421--Holistic Thought Mgmt 4
     NASX 415--Native Food Syst 3
     PSCI 436--Politics Food/Hunger 3
     PSCI 406-- The Political Econ of Energy 3
University Core and Electives (IA or IH) 3-5
Total 30

> Back to Table of Contents