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Land Use Conference

NIFA partnered with the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC), the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development (NERCRD), and the Interuniversity Consortium for Agricultural and Related Sciences in Europe (ICA) to conduct a conference to advance multidisciplinary approaches to address complex land use issues.  The primary audience was academic scientists and graduate students.   

Titled the “Conference on the Science and Education of Land Use: a transatlantic, multidisciplinary and comparative approach,” the meeting explored the causes and consequences of current land use trends and dynamics related to society, economy, and environment. It identified the major drivers of land use and alternative measures that could strengthen the sustainable use of natural resources in rural and suburban areas. The conference also explored the trade-offs among broad benefits and costs of alternative land uses.   An important and unique aspect of the conference was the emphasis on transatlantic (Europe/U.S.) comparisons. 

The conference included a strong focus on education and curricula issues as they relate to improving the ability to utilize a multidisciplinary approach to land use research.  There was a special effort to translate conference findings for teaching purposes and to outline the main features of trans-national and trans-disciplinary curricula on future land use changes.  Conferees also explored transatlantic cooperation in the development of training and student exchange programs. 

Among the expected conference outcomes:

  • synthesis of existing knowledge, identification of gaps in current knowledge, and future research needs;
  • explicit comparisons of land use issues and approaches to their resolution in Europe and in the United States;
  • increased cooperation among scientists across the Atlantic and submission of joint research proposals;
  • increased sharing of curricula, student exchanges, and enhanced student experiences; and,
  • one or more edited books containing conference papers.


NIFA provided initial funding for the conference to its partners, NASULGC and NERCRD. NERCRD, located at Pennsylvania State University, receives core funds from NIFA and the Northeastern Regional Association of State Agricultural Experiment Station Directors.

In addition to NIFA, NASULGC, ICA, and NERCRD, conference cosponsors included:

  • Pennsylvania State University College of Agricultural Sciences and Environmental and Natural Resources Institute;
  • Michigan State University Land Policy Institute;
  • University of Georgia Land Use Studies Initiative;
  • University of Maryland Center for Agro-Ecology;
  • the North Central Rural Development Center at Iowa State University;
  • the Western Rural Development Center at Utah State University;
  • The Ohio State University Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy;
  • the Southern Rural Development Center at Mississippi State University; and
  • the Agricultural Economics Research Institute (LEI), Wageningen University and Research Center, The Netherlands. 

The conference was held in Washington, DC, September 24-26, 2007.   For more information, visit the Conference on the Science and Education of Land Use Web site or contact NIFA National Program Leaders Fen Hunt or Michael Bowers.


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