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Viewing: HI 360 : U.S. Agricultural History

Last approved: Tue, 12 May 2015 15:20:36 GMT

Last edit: Tue, 12 May 2015 13:06:17 GMT

Catalog Pages referencing this course
Change Type
HI (History)
Dual-Level Course
Cross-listed Course
U.S. Agricultural History
U.S. Agricultural History
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
History (16HI)
Term Offering
Spring Only
Offered Alternate Even Years
Fall 2015
Previously taught as Special Topics?
Course Delivery
Face-to-Face (On Campus)

Grading Method
Graded with S/U option
Contact Hours
(Per Week)
Component TypeContact Hours
Course Attribute(s)
GEP (Gen Ed)

If your course includes any of the following competencies, check all that apply.
University Competencies

Course Is Repeatable for Credit
Matthew Morse Booker
Associate Professor of History

Open when course_delivery = campus OR course_delivery = blended OR course_delivery = flip
Enrollment ComponentPer SemesterPer SectionMultiple Sections?Comments
Open when course_delivery = distance OR course_delivery = online OR course_delivery = remote

Is the course required or an elective for a Curriculum?
U.S. Agricultural history from colonial era to present. Attention to the major economic, social, political, environmental and cultural forces that shaped American agriculture from the 16th century to 21st century. Discussion of the role of technological change and evolution of governmental policy in U.S. agriculture. Exposure to major episodes demonstrating fundamental changes and continuities in U.S. agriculture. Discussion of the diversity of American farmers and farmworkers and their struggles for equality and access.

NC State was founded in 1887 as the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts. Its history, like that of the United States as a whole, is closely tied to agriculture. Yet NC State offers no course on the history of U.S. agriculture. Some pieces of that story are offered in Horticulture, Crop Science and other departments, and this course will complement those offerings. This will be the first course offered in agricultural history at NC State in at least ten years and the only course in the catalog.


Is this a GEP Course?
GEP Categories
US Diversity
Humanities Open when gep_category = HUM
Each course in the Humanities category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:
Outcome 1.1: Students will describe the diversity of agricultural practices that typified North American societies before the arrival of Europeans, in European colonies, and in the U.S. national period.
Outcome 1.2: Students will be able to identify and compare farming methods in the United States from colonial period to present.
Sample test questions.
Students will be asked to identify specific cultural characteristics and historical details (subsistence practices, religious ideology, changes in settlement patterns over time, writing systems, etc.) associated with various groups. For example: “Using specific examples (some possibilities: sites, architecture, artwork, artifacts) compare and contrast the lives and practices of Ancient Maya people in different social groups (e.g. elites, nobles, commoners).” Test questions will also ask students to identify differences between different cultural groups (in areas such as mechanisms for social control, social hierarchy, architecture, subsistence practices, religious practices, etc.). For example: “Compare and contrast specific ways the Aztec and Inca Empires acquired and maintained social and political power. Be sure to provide specific terms and examples.”
Outcome 2.1: Students will identify and interpret the various methods and forms of evidence that historians use to study past cultures and events.
Outcome 2.2: Students will evaluate, critique, and interpret primary and secondary historical sources.
In-class activities.
Students will be asked to contrast the agricultural writings of political elites like Thomas Jefferson with letters and memoirs of actual farm families. Additionally, students will be asked to practice interpretative techniques as they answer questions about documents written about similar events by different individuals.
Outcome 3.1: Students will be able to identify major historical forces and events that have shaped agriculture in the United States, explain the impacts of these forces and events, and evaluate the ways historical issues continue to affect the region today.
Outcome 3.2: Students will evaluate and critique myths and misconceptions about agriculture in U.S. history.
Outcome 3.3: Students will identify, analyze, and evaluate political, cultural, and economic issues related to agricultural economics and policy today and develop and articulate opinions about ways to address these issues.
Essay questions on exams will require students to evaluate and interpret historical events and cultural practices, put these events and practices into broader contexts using various forms of evidence, and will make academic arguments about the human experience using reasons and evidence for supporting those reasons. For example:"How have popular conceptions of American farming evolved in the United States over the past two centuries?--Using assigned readings from Hurt and Gardner’s books and other specific class examples, discuss cultural and historical factors that reinforced the misconceptions you described. Provide specific evidence from the readings and class to disprove and/or challenge the misconceptions.” And, “What has changed and what has not in American agriculture since the 17th century? Describe three specific environmental, cultural, political, and/or economic factors that contributed to the expansion of agricultural land and productivity and explain the dramatic reduction in number of farmers and farm laborers in the same period.”
Mathematical Sciences Open when gep_category = MATH
Each course in the Mathematial Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:




Natural Sciences Open when gep_category = NATSCI
Each course in the Natural Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:




Social Sciences Open when gep_category = SOCSCI
Each course in the Social Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Interdisciplinary Perspectives Open when gep_category = INTERDISC
Each course in the Interdisciplinary Perspectives category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:








Visual & Performing Arts Open when gep_category = VPA
Each course in the Visual and Performing Arts category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Health and Exercise Studies Open when gep_category = HES
Each course in the Health and Exercise Studies category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:








Global Knowledge Open when gep_category = GLOBAL
Each course in the Global Knowledge category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to achieve objective #1 plus at least one of objectives 2, 3, and 4:


Please complete at least 1 of the following student objectives.






US Diversity Open when gep_category = USDIV
Each course in the US Diversity category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to achieve at least 2 of the following objectives:
Please complete at least 2 of the following student objectives.


1. Students will categorize and compare systems of farm labor over the course of American history, including individual farm families, communal labor, indentured servants, enslaved people, sharecroppers, tenant farmers and migratory workers.
2. Students will describe and analyze agricultural policies designed to stimulate and protect agricultural industries from the colonial period to late 20th century United States, and evaluate the ways these interventions aided and harmed distinct groups of farmers and farmworkers.
Sample test questions.
Describe the major farm labor systems that typified British North American colonies and Spanish North American colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries. After listing each of the systems, analyze the differences between them from the perspectives of farm owners and farm laborers. What economic and political need did each labor system address, and what were its consequences for workers?

What was the difference between antebellum slavery and postbellum sharecropping in the American South? Define each system, and discuss its economic rationale and social and political underpinnings.
Students must be able to compare and explain why distinct groups of farm laborers have had such varied results from their efforts to win better working conditions, pay and benefits from employers and governments over the course of modern U.S. history.
Sample test question.
Using primary sources from our course, describe the efforts by 1930s white Dust Bowl migrant farmworkers, 1950s-1960s Mexican American migrant farmworkers, and 1980s African American farmers to organize for governmental protection and interventions on their behalf. What motivated each group, what tactics did they use, and to what extent did they achieve their goals?


Requisites and Scheduling
a. If seats are restricted, describe the restrictions being applied.
b. Is this restriction listed in the course catalog description for the course?
List all course pre-requisites, co-requisites, and restrictive statements (ex: Jr standing; Chemistry majors only). If none, state none.
List any discipline specific background or skills that a student is expected to have prior to taking this course. If none, state none. (ex: ability to analyze historical text; prepare a lesson plan)
Additional Information
Complete the following 3 questions or attach a syllabus that includes this information. If a 400-level or dual level course, a syllabus is required.
Title and author of any required text or publications.
See syllabus
Major topics to be covered and required readings including laboratory and studio topics.
See syllabus
List any required field trips, out of class activities, and/or guest speakers.
See syllabus
This course will be taught by Matthew Booker, as part of his standard rotation, on a two year cycle. No other new resources will be required or requested for this course.

This course covers the history of U.S. agriculture. Upon completion, students will:

1. Understand the major economic, social, political, environmental and cultural forces that shaped American agriculture from the 16th century to 21st century.

2. Comprehend the role of technological change in American agriculture.

3. Witness the changing role of governmental policy in agriculture.

4. Consider the continuing struggles for equality and access by diverse groups of American agricultural workers.

5. Perceive fundamental change and continuities in U.S. agriculture.

6. Understand the relationship between politics, economics, and agriculture.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

1. Identify and analyze major events that influenced American agricultural history and how major concepts such as production and consumption have evolved and changed over time.

2. Critically evaluate and interpret primary (documents) and secondary (books/articles) sources in U.S. agricultural history.

3. Construct arguments that answer major historical questions in U.S. agriculture since the colonial period.

4. Articulate how historical, political, economic, legal, and social processes have produced opportunity as well as how they have functioned to reinforce structural inequalities in U.S. agriculture.                                                   

5. Describe how individuals, groups, technologies, markets, institutions and nations interact to yield historical continuity and change.

6. Recognize how the act of interpretation itself is a critical form of knowing in the Humanities as well as the variety of factors that shape how you, as an individual, view and interpret the past.

Evaluation MethodWeighting/Points for EachDetails
Discussion10Informed discussion is a required element of this course.
Midterm25An in-class exam consisting of short identification questions and essay questions.
Quizzes20In-class discussion activities, including quizzes, will enhance understanding of the reading material.
Final Exam25A comprehensive examination consisting of short identification questions and essay questions.
Major Paper20A 4-5 page, original research project addressing a major theme of American agricultural history.
TopicTime Devoted to Each TopicActivity
The Columbian ExchangeWeek 1Two lectures; readings from Mann on the Columbian Exchange
Neo EuropesWeek 2Three lectures; readings from Cronon and Weber on two kinds of agricultural colonies; in-class discussion
A Farmer's RepublicWeek 3Three lectures; readings on Jeffersonian vision and the rise of slave-based commodity agriculture
Food and the Civil WarWeek 4Three lectures; readings from Potter and Brady; in-class discussion
ReconstructionWeek 5Three lectures; readings on sharecropping and the tragedy of the New South; discussion of King Cotton
Claiming the WestWeek 6Three lectures; readings on breaking the plains and the homestead act and federal support for railroads
Rural Politics in the Age of the CityWeek 7Three lectures; readings on populism and farmer revolts in the Gilded Age; discussion
Food and the Great WarWeek 8One lecture; readings on US agriculture in WWI; midterm
Depression in the CountrysideWeek 9Three lectures; readings on the Dust Bowl and the New Deal for farmers; discussion
World War II and American FarmsWeek 10Three lectures; readings from McWilliams and Hurt; discussion
ConsolidationWeek 11Three lectures; readings on the loss of small farms and the disproportionate loss of Black-owned farms; discussion
Subsidies and SupportsWeek 12Three lectures; readings on federal interventions in agriculture; discussion
Industrial AgricultureWeek 13Two lectures; readings on technological advances in agriculture; discussion
Chemical RevolutionWeek 14Three lectures; readings on insecticides and concerns about them; discussion
Green Revolution & 21st Century AgricultureWeek 15One lecture; readings on the Green Revolution and global export agriculture; twolectures; readings on the organic movement and GMOs
Final ExamWeek 16

Key: 7153