Course Syllabus

Welcome to Agronomy 592 at Iowa State University!

portrait of David Kwaw-Mensah

Instructor: Dr. David Kwaw-Mensah
Email Address:
Phone: 515–294–5106

Office Hours: Key activities in Office Hours include answering unclear content from modules, review of key module content, assignment issues/questions, and preparation for exams.


Catalog Description: Critical analysis and discussion of agricultural practices, programs, and policies of current interest to the field of agronomy. Leadership skill development through consideration of technical, social, and ethical components underlying controversial topics. Enhancement of communication proficiency through debate and writing in order to define problems, articulate possible solutions, and propose appropriate courses of action. Required course for the Master of Science in agronomy degree program.

Prerequisites: AGRON 501, AGRON 503, AGRON 511, AGRON 512, AGRON 513, AGRON 514. Restricted to graduate students enrolled in MS Agronomy online degree program at ISU. Students from other departments must get permission.

Course Overview

In agriculture, a continuum exists between the past and current agricultural issues, which continues to evolve into the future with advancement in technology and population growth. As current and future agricultural leaders, you will be faced with many complex agricultural issues. Current agricultural leaders will function in a much different environment 5-10 years from now, compared with 5-10 years ago.  Agricultural practices, programs, and policies are constantly evolving, which require critical analysis and discussion, particularly regarding their impact on livelihoods, the environment and future generations. Today, groups whose major interest and training is not in agriculture are affecting agricultural practices, programs, and policies. These groups range from large national or international profit industries and non-profit organizations (e.g. Seed Companies, Ag Machinery Companies, Agrochemical industry, National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club) or advocacy groups (e.g., Environmental Working Group, American Farm Bureau Federation, Pesticide Action Network, CropLife Foundation, Food & Water Watch, Natural Resources Defense Council, Agricultural Biotechnology Council, Organic Consumers Association, Greenpeace International, Union of Concerned Scientists, Center for Food Safety) to local, state, or regional groups of concerned private citizens (e.g., Squaw Creek Watershed Coalition, Waterkeeper Alliance, California Food and Justice Coalition, La Via Campesina, Food Chain Workers Alliance, MASIPAG [Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Development]). There is a high probability that the majority of the members of these groups may not have the same level of agronomic and scientific training or technical knowledge as the farmer or agronomist.  What then is the basis for their involvement in food and agriculture issues? What is the basis for their concern(s)? If their concerns are not technically or scientifically sound, should they be dismissed?

Social scientists sometimes use the term "wicked problems" to refer to those complex science and policy-related issues for which stakeholders do not agree on. Either the problem itself, its causes or solutions (Batie, 2008). These types of complex problems, often have very strong ethical and political dimensions, which require professionalism, leadership and enhanced communication besides technical knowledge to resolve. It can be argued that some agricultural issues are more related to the values of some segments of society than with agriculture itself. In some cases agriculture and its consumption of natural resources is only one component of a larger set of these issues. In these scenarios, how do we go beyond simply stating how we "feel" about an issue? How do we decide on courses of action? How do we go about solving the problem or reaching a compromise? Often, solutions to “wicked problems” must be tailored to particular situations or locations and solved by multidisciplinary approaches in which people from different disciplines and frequently with differing viewpoints have a voice in influencing and developing solutions. To this end, are current and future leaders adequately prepared to solve such complex agronomic issues, which social scientist term as “wicked problems?

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to some important agricultural issues, which may be highly important to students, give students the opportunity to be intimately familiar with those issues, by providing a conceptual framework within which students can develop their personal and professional leadership skills to debate, discuss, evaluate, and communicate effectively about these issues through writing.

Course Objectives

The goals of this course are to:

  1. Introduce students to a set of complex agricultural issues, and, in so doing, illustrate various technical, scientific, socio-economic, ethical, and policy components underlying those issues.
  2. Help students learn to evaluate data and information sources for currency, relevance, biases, applicability, accuracy, and purpose.
  3. Stimulate students to develop critical personal and professional leadership skills to logically, and objectively assess complex and often highly contentious agricultural issues.
  4. Provide students with the opportunity to research controversial agricultural issues, define the problem(s) and affected key stakeholders, develop potential solutions to these problems, and effectively communicate solutions to affected key stakeholders and policy makers in a professional manner.

Course Structure

All of the content for this course is contained in Canvas. Your ability to use a web browser, input assessment responses via text-editing software such as Microsoft Word, and access all the technologies will directly influence your success in the course. If you have not already done so:

  1. Visit the MS Agronomy website and look for the section titled "Browser and Computer Compatibility Test: Your Results". Ensure your computer passes all areas of the test. This will ensure your ability to fully utilize the online course materials.
  2. Then, visit the MyCanvas Students guide developed by Iowa State University. Complete the first module, called “Getting Started in Canvas”, to learn about Canvas’s technical requirements and which browser you should use for Canvas.

Courses offered only in Canvas are not available for download in a PDF format. To access your content offline follow these steps on a laptop or desktop.


There is no textbook required for this course. Required readings will be accessible via a direct link or through the Course Reserves link in the main navigation of the course. You might look ahead in order to budget enough time to complete all the readings.

Instructor Interactions

Office Hours: Key activities in Office Hours include answering unclear content from modules, review of key module content, assignment issues/questions, and preparation for exams.

Email: Feel free to message the instructor via the Canvas Inbox if you have any questions or concerns.

Discussions: Instructors interact with students as the discussions are trending, leaving comments and giving feedback. Feel free to draw the instructor into the discussion with a question.

Graded Feedback: All graded assessments will be returned with feedback within 10 days of the due date. Be sure to check your graded submissions for comments regarding your work.

Grading Procedures

Your course grade will be composed of the following components:

Assignments ~45%
Discussions ~25%
Term Project ~30%
Total  100%

Grades will be assigned on the following scale, with plus/minus grading applied.

A 90% and above
B 80-89%
C 70-79%
D 60-69%
F Below 60%


Submission of Homework

Specific instructions and expectations can be found on each Assignment. Deadlines for assignments are viewable in the Calendar. For Modules 1-4, due dates for Assignments occur at weekly intervals. In contrast for Modules 5-8 ​you are provided 3-4 weeks to complete the one or two required Assignments. Pay particular attention to the calendar deadlines for the Assignments for Modules 5-8, which must be submitted by the posted dates to enable the subsequent discussions that are framed around papers written and shared among students. 

Assignments require from one to multiple pages of writing and vary as to whether formal in-text citations and a reference list are required or not. Often Assignments will take the form of an essay, but other times you will provide a set of short responses in the form of a bulleted list. If the instructions for a given Assignment indicate that citations and references are required, all in-text citations and reference entries MUST follow the style format conventions of the Agronomy Society of America / Crop Science Society of America / Soil Science Society of America (which we refer to as the ASA style). The reason for this style requirement is that it is a form of professional practice. Learning to use it will prepare you for tackling citations and references associated with your Creative Component project, which also requires use of the ASA style! If you are unfamiliar with the ASA style format, at the outset of the course it will be critical that you review  Module 2 in the Writing Guide (Fales et al., 2016b), which provides examples of a number of the style formats for both bibliographic references and in-text citations. However for much greater detail and a wider range of examples refer to the sections titled Citation Style and Reference (pages 1-10 through 1-19) in Chapter 1-Manuscript Preparation of the ASA-CSSA-SSSA Publications Handbook and Style Manual (Agronomy Society of America, 2017a, 2017b).

Submission of Discussion Comments

Discussion is critical for an "issues" course. The regularity and quality of your submissions to each Discussion Topic (or DT) will be considered in about 25% or so of the course total score assigned to discussion. For each module unit, there will be from one to four DTs. This discussion occurs in Canvas and responses must be posted by the dates and times listed in the Calendar to enable you and your classmates to complete the subsequent assignment or discussions that may be dependent on completion of a preceding step.

If you anticipate that your professional work or personal obligations will compromise your ability to meet a particular deadline in a timely fashion, be proactive and contact the instructor to make arrangements on how to handle your contribution to course activity for that particular phase of the module. To make discussions more manageable, the instructor will assign you to a smaller permanent discussion group. To stimulate lively discussions (and sometimes debates!), group membership is set by the instructor at the outset of the course to maximize diversity WITHIN teams (for example, a mix of employers, professions, genders, or geographic representation).

It is highly recommend that you use the "Subscribe" feature for all Discussion forums in AGRON 592—when you open a discussion forum in Canvas, near the top of the forum space you can select the Subscribe button, and then each time someone posts a comment in the forum you will receive an automated email (or push message in the app) letting you know that someone has posted a message.

Grading of DTs

Each associated discussion (DT) is worth a total of 10 points. You must post at least once to each DT to receive any credit (1-10 points, depending on quality). But DT discussion forums are not intended to be similar to homework assignments in which you post a single response in isolation without participation in back-and-forth exchange with your group members. Each person should address the topic at hand, but then check back repeatedly during the discussion duration to react to team members' comments or questions in order to receive the full 10 points.

Term Project

A second type of writing obligation in this course will be associated with a so-called Term Project. The Term Project consists of a set of separate component parts that will be due over the course of the semester. The distinct components are described in more detail in the next section of the syllabus. There are submission areas in Canvas for uploading all of the respective components of the Term Project. To view the instructions for individual Term Project components and to submit them to your instructor, locate the Term Projects component assignments in either the the Modules area or Assignments area in Canvas. Submission deadlines for Term Project-related milestones are noted in the Calendar in Canvas. A subset of the Term Project components must be uploaded to Canvas and then shared among student participants for peer-to-peer review to garner their suggestions and comments, so again, timely submission is key.


Communication Policy

All communication within the course should adhere to University standards of Netiquette at ISU. Specifically, communication should be scholarly, respectful, professional, and polite. You are encouraged to disagree with other students, but such disagreements needs to be based upon facts and documentation. It is my goal to promote an atmosphere of mutual respect in our interactions. Please contact me if you have suggestions for improving the interactions in this course.

Use the Course Questions forum in Canvas (or e-mail to ask questions, share an interesting article or observation, or comment on current and relevant events. Keep informed—check the discussion board frequently. I will monitor the discussion board and my email during "regular business hours" and you can expect a response within 24 hours. You should expect a delay if you contact me outside of those hours.

General announcements will be posted to the Announcements section of Canvas. Additional guidelines apply to communication within Discussion Topics. Please review the Discussion expectations shown above.

Be sure to properly configure your Notification settings or commit yourself to checking Canvas daily for new communication.

Feedback Policy

All graded assessments will be returned with feedback within 10 days of the due date. Be sure to check your graded submissions for comments regarding your work.

Term Project

Proposal for Addressing an Important and Controversial Agricultural Issue in your Profession

For your Term Project, you will be expected to prepare a final essay and develop an associated presentation that focus on a course of action that you propose in relation to a current, significant – and, what's an important objective for this course, controversial – issue in agriculture. Your topic should fit the definition of a "wicked problem" as briefly described in a previous section of the syllabus. To make progress on your Term Project more manageable, I've divided the project into a set of components, with milestones or component deadlines spread out across the semester; those deadlines are shown in the Course Calendar in Canvas. Early in the semester, you will need to select a topic focus and your progress towards accomplishing the components are interwoven with your progress through the Module materials, homework assignments, and module-based discussions.


Term Project Component Milestones

Activity Description

Week 1

Overview & Expectations

Review information about "wicked problems", argumentative essays, plagiarism-related expectations, and American Society of Agronomy citation/reference style guidelines, and then complete the Plagiarism Test in Canvas.

Week 2

Topic Choice

Prepare and submit a description of your tentative choice for a Term Project topic; consider who might be affected; ruminate on what evidence you might need to compile in order to develop a persuasive argumentative essay; obtain feedback from instructor and then begin process of evidence-based research to compile sources of evidence to effectively support your arguments

Week 3

Ethics Reflection Exercise

Analyze ethical dimensions pertinent to your chosen topic and conduct a Term Project-related ethics reflection exercise.

Week 4

Paradigm Reflection Exercise

Contemplate the types of paradigms or worldviews that might be held by key stakeholders impacted by your selected issue. Briefly discuss relevant paradigms that might influence your chosen "wicked problem"

Week 5

Preliminary Reference List

Search library databases and other high quality reference sources pertinent to your topic; develop and submit a preliminary reference list; be sure to consider evidence from sources that support your central thesis as well as those that might question or refute it; your sources will need to span topic considerations for science and technology as has been common for your other courses in the MS Agronomy Program, but also must include ethical, social, economic, environmental, and policy dimensions as well

Week 6

Preliminary Reference List Peer Review Discussion

Read, evaluate, and offer suggestions to the preliminary reference lists generated by your team members

Weeks 7 & 8

Draft Core Content (Thesis Statement / Outline/ Course of Action)

Prepare and submit preliminary a draft-in-progress containing the core elements of an argumentative essay that wrestles with a "wicked problem"; the draft document should contain (a) a concise thesis statement followed by (b) an outline that includes key supporting topics and premises, followed by (c) a conclusion structured around your proposed course of action

Week 9

Draft Core Content Peer Review Discussion

Read, evaluate, and offer suggestions to the draft essay core content (thesis statement, brief outline of key evidence or premise statements, conclusion and proposed course of action) generated by your team members

Week 10 & 11

Presentation Draft

Submit a draft of PowerPoint® presentation that demonstrates your ability to handle a controversial topic in agriculture; also submit a brief accompanying document that describes your target audience and how you would persuade other potentially contentious audiences

Week 12 & 13

Draft Problem Analysis Mapping Reflection Exercise

Develop and submit a draft of a so-called problem tree analysis or system map that articulates such features as cause and effect relationships, means and ends of objectives, and proposed interventions or strategies

Week 14

Presentation & Analysis Map Peer Review Discussion

Read, evaluate, and offer suggestions to the Term Project presentations and analysis mapping schemes developed and provided by your team members

Week 15 & 16

Final Essay & Final Presentation

Based on feedback from your student peers and your instructor, revise your PPT presentation and problem analysis map. Then finalize and submit your final essay, including the system map, and also submit your final presentation

Learn How to Write an Argumentative Essay

Your Term Project paper will need to follow a particular written essay style format called an Argumentative Essay. This essay style is a good fit for handling a discourse about a "wicked topic". The Purdue University Online Writing Lab (Purdue OWL) provides an excellent description of what this type of essay entails. You will need to read and follow the essay tips and instructions in the Purdue OWL description of an Argumentative Essay (Baker, Brizee, and Angeli, 2013). Here are some highlights quoted from the Purdue OWL description of this type essay that you will need to follow as you develop and finalize your Term Project final paper:

  • “The argumentative essay is a genre of writing that requires the student to investigate a topic; collect, generate, and evaluate evidence; and establish a position on the topic in a concise manner.”
    • “Argumentative essay assignments generally call for extensive research of literature or previously published material.”
    • “Detailed research allows the student to learn about the topic and to understand different points of view regarding the topic so that she/he may choose a position and support it with the evidence collected during research.”
    • “Regardless of the amount or type of research involved, argumentative essays must establish a clear thesis and follow sound reasoning.”
  • “The structure of the argumentative essay is held together by the following”:
    • “A clear, concise, and defined thesis statement that occurs in the first paragraph of the essay…
    • Clear and logical transitions between the introduction, body, and conclusion…
    • Body paragraphs that include evidential support… [including dedication of …] one or two paragraphs of an argumentative essay to discussing conflicting opinions on the topic.
    • Evidential support (whether factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal).
    • A conclusion that does not simply restate the thesis, but readdresses it in light of the evidence provided.”
  • “A common method for writing an argumentative essay is the five-paragraph approach [although the number of "body paragraphs" can be more than three depending on the depth of the analysis and amount of evidence presented]. This is, however, by no means the only formula for writing such essays. If it sounds straightforward, that is because it is; in fact, the method consists of
    • (a) an introductory paragraph
    • (b) three [or more] evidentiary body paragraphs that [should] include discussion of opposing views and
    • (c) a conclusion.”
  • “Complex issues and detailed research call for complex and detailed essays. Argumentative essays discussing a number of research sources or empirical research will most certainly be longer than five paragraphs. Authors may have to discuss the context surrounding the topic, sources of information and their credibility, as well as a number of different opinions on the issue before concluding the essay.” (Baker, Brizee, and Angeli, 2013)

Refresh or Update your Knowledge of Critical Writing-related Expectations and Skills: Plagiarism & Citation of Sources

At the very beginning of the course, access the online Writing Guide and make sure you read and understand the information provided in Module 1: Academic Integrity and Module 2: Citation Guide.

You must become adept at using the ASA reference and in-text citation style format used by the Tri-Societies (ASA-CSSA-SSSA). I recommend at the start of the course that you print out the pages relevant for the two sections Citation Style and Reference (pages 1-10 through 1-19) in Chapter 1-Manuscript Preparation in the ASA-CSSA-SSSA Publications Handbook and Style Manual – or at least bookmark those ASA links in your browser for quick reference during this semester.

PLAGIARISM TEST:  A short but graded Plagiarism Test has been set up as a test in the Term Project content area in Canvas and must be completed by the end of Week 1.

Choose a Term Project Topic

For the focus of your Term Project, choose an agricultural issue that can be described as a "wicked problem" that you believe will affect your business or profession in the near future. This topic should be a real issue for you, your community, or your company or agency – one for which a suitable course of action must be determined as a possible solution to a problem. You should choose a problem that you could potentially influence, even if your exploration of the topic during the course is theoretical and not an issue that you will actually handle in real-life. You should choose a professional issue that is important to you. We have designed this class as an opportunity for leadership development. Your topic must be significant, current, controversial, and therefore debatable. The issue could be pertinent to your Creative Component project as long as for this Term Project you grapple with aspects related to your CC project for which some stakeholders may not agree. Conversely, you can choose to explore a Term Project topic of significance that is unrelated to your actual employment or Creative Component topic, but otherwise still intrigues you.

TOPIC CHOICE STATEMENT: Present a brief summary and justification regarding your topic choice by the end of Week 2 of the semester. Briefly identify the stakeholder community for your proposal. Who and what issue are you targeting? What is the nature of the controversy and why might it be termed a "wicked problem" instead of a "tame problem"? Briefly what are the key differing viewpoints on the subject at hand and mention the evidence sources that you are likely to locate and types of evidence you might compile as you investigate your selected issue. For our purposes in this course, think very broadly about who might be impacted and what elements might cause controversy or provoke concern or disagreement.

Research the Factors Related to the Issue/problem

The quality of evidence that you locate, research, and present in your essay is critical for achieving effective and persuasive evidence-based argumentation of the type used in an Argumentative Essay, the style of essay that you need to follow for your final Term Project paper.The internet provides a wealth of information and, I realize, is one of your most easily available resources for searching for information, but the information that you can glean from the internet is not necessarily accurate or unbiased or complete. For the Term Project of this capstone course in your MS degree program, your Term Project will be evaluated in large part on the quality of the evidence you present to support your statements and claims. For this reason, be sure to investigate your topic through the ISU Parks Library reference guides, indexes, and search engines to locate credible and accurate sources of evidence.

ISU Librarian Anita Kay has developed the MS Agronomy Program Library Guide that will serve as a very helpful resource in this course, both for Assignments and the Term Project components (Kay , 2017). You are encouraged to consider all credible information resources available to you especially refereed (peer reviewed) articles, both also agency reports, people within your company, clients, university or industry researchers, crop consultants, extension specialists, citizen group documents, and media coverage as you research your chosen issue. One of the tools that you can apply to help you judge the merit of your information sources is the so-called C.R.A.A.P. Test (California State University-Chico, 2010), a set of evaluating criteria (C=Currency, R=Relevance, A=Authority, A=Accuracy, and P=Purpose) of information sources. You will be expected to apply and use the tools presented throughout this course to help evaluate the information, ponder ethical, policy, regulatory, economic, or social ramifications, as well as demonstrate your professional expertise and technical competency gained through your academic training and professional work to date.

PRELIMINARY REFERENCES LIST: After Week 5 of the semester, submit a preliminary reference list following the citation and reference style format conventions for the Tri-Societies, ASA-CSSA-SSSA. The ASA citation and reference style format is described briefly in Module 2-Citation Guide of the Writing Guide, the latter of which is available as a tool for students in this graduate program. But for this course as a form of professional practice, you will be expected to follow this style format in detail and therefore you will need to consult and follow the guidelines given in the Citation Style and Reference section of Chapter 1 in the ASA-CSSA-SSSA Publications Handbook and Style Manual. Your preliminary bibliographic list of sources can be brief and represent a preliminary exploration of your selected topic, but you must strive to follow the ASA style conventions so that you can obtain feedback on the style format aspect as well as your preliminary topic content range. You are encouraged to consult with the Anita Kay, the Subject Librarian at the Iowa State Library to obtain assistance in searching for appropriate references to help you craft a cogent argumentative essay. Think broadly in setting up your keyword searches so that you can locate and analyze sources to develop a technically and scientifically sound Term Project, but be aware that in this course you should simultaneously conduct vigorous research to obtain strong evidence pertaining to other aspects that may explain the controversial nature of your chosen topic – policy, regulation, ethics, social, and economic concerns – and therefore address aspects of the leadership-training objectives of this course. Anita Kay worked recently with MS Agronomy program staff and faculty to create the Mendeley Guide (Kay et al., 2017), which is available to you as a tool for MS Agronomy program students. Mendeley® is a type of citation and bibliographic management software that can be used to create citations and help you manage on your own computer your own library of published articles and other reference sources.

PRELIMINARY REFERENCES LIST PEER REVIEW DISCUSSION: Each student is expected to briefly review and evaluate the preliminary list of references developed by their team members in a Canvas discussion forum titled Term Project Preliminary Reference List Peer Review.

Explore Aspects of the Problem that Go Beyond Science and Technology

In a trio of short Reflections that help you develop and practice analysis, planning, and communication skills that go beyond strictly scientific and technological aspects of your Term Project, you will develop and submit short responses that help you explore ethics and paradigms, and use analysis tree or system mapping visualization to ponder and tackle solutions of your "wicked" problem. These reflections will be due just after Weeks 3, 4, and 13:


Develop a Strong Thesis Statement

DRAFT CORE CONTENT (PRELIMINARY THESIS STATEMENT, OUTLINE, AND COURSE(S) OF ACTION): After Week 8 of the semester, submit a draft that articulates (a) a draft thesis statement, (b) an outline of your term paper that highlights key background topics that you expect to cover and premise that support or refute your stance, and (c) a draft conclusion statement that indicates the main features of your proposed course(s) of actionRead the description of Developing Strong Thesis Statements by Purdue OWL (Weida and Stolley 2013). The outline should address the important elements discussed below in this document relative to the complete proposal. The outline will be preliminary in nature, but the more complete you are in your draft outline, the more opportunity for garnering feedback. In your draft thesis statement, outline, and statement of your proposed course(s) of action, make sure to indicate the focus of the claim that you hope to persuade or argue about in your essay, the types of evidence that you intend to use to support your own claim, as well as evidence that your acknowledge does not support your claim, but supports the claims of those with opposing viewpoints. The subtopics that you mention in the outline should serve to demonstrate your expertise not just about critical aspects of technology and science involved in your issue of choice for the Term Project, but also demonstrate your awareness of key relevant policy, regulation, ethics, social, and economic facets. 

DRAFT CORE CONTENT PEER REVIEW DISCUSSION: Each student is expected to briefly review and evaluate the core content drafts of their team members in a Canvas discussion forum titled Term Project Draft Core Content Peer Review.

  • A thesis statement needs to be debatable and narrow enough in scope to allow you to craft an effective set of cohesive arguments that you support by key evidence
  • Refer to the description of Developing Strong Thesis Statements by Purdue OWL (Weida and Stolley 2013) for help in understanding how to prepare an effective thesis statement
  • The thesis statement functions as a critical piece of the introduction section of your essay; the remainder of the essay follows logically from the thesis statement and will include citation of evidence supporting your main clam, mention of opposing viewpoints, and culminate in a conclusion containing your proposed course of action

Develop a Clear Conclusion stating your Proposed Course(s) of Action

  • Include justification
  • Consider the effects of the issue/problem on all those potentially affected. Will all benefit or will there be some "losers" and "winners"?
  • What are the potential benefits and what are the risks associated with your proposed course(s) of action?

Prepare and Submit a PowerPoint Presentation & Use a System Mapping Method to Help Articulate the Problem & Solutions

POWERPOINT-BASED PRESENTATION & ASSOCIATED JUSTIFICATION STATEMENT: From your written proposal draft develop a concise, well-designed PowerPoint presentation that you could use to present your ideas. A requirement for this presentation is that you design it for a target audience that does not necessarily agree with your stance on your chosen Term Project subject and therefore you need to design it in a way to address and effectively handle potential debate. Make sure to have a clear idea of a specific target audience in mind (note that some previous Agron 592 students have actually presented their proposals in subsequent profession-related settings).

In association with the PPT file, provide to the instructor a brief addendum in a Word® document discussing if and how this presentation would be modified when presented to customers, special interest groups, or other clientele beyond who you envision as your target audience. This description can be short, but should demonstrate that you are well prepared to handle potentially difficult situations where you might be confronted with individuals who have a different understanding or viewpoint of the controversial topic that you have researched. The Presentation must be submitted by the end of Week 11.

PROBLEM ANALYSIS MAPPING: As described above with the other reflection exercises, prepare a system map to help you develop and practice analysis, planning, and communication skills that go beyond strictly scientific and technological aspects of your Term Project. After Week 13, develop and submit a draft problem analysis tree about your term project topic so that you can use to ponder and tackle solutions for your "wicked" problem.

PPT PRESENTATION & ANALYSIS MAP PEER REVIEW DISCUSSION: Each student is expected to briefly review and evaluate the preliminary PPT presentation and the system mapping drafts of their team members in a Canvas discussion forum titled Term Project Presentation & Analysis Map Peer Review.

Submit a Final Written Report Accompanied by a Final Presentation

TERM PROJECT FINAL ESSAY: Your final report in the form of an argumentative essay with citations and references must be submitted by the end of the semester (note there are no exams or quizzes in this course). Your report should include these elements:

  • Your essay should include (a) an Introduction section that includes a clear thesis statement identifying the controversial issue, (b) "background" section with a set of paragraphs that serve to argue your premises and claims, each of which should be well-supported by credible evidence and demonstrate your expertise regarding your chosen issue, (c) a Conclusion section that articulates your proposed course(s) of action, and (d) a Reference section that includes reference entries using the ASA style format and that match each in-text citation within your essay, as well as references for all figures or tables derived and cited from other sources.
  • Define the issue (from all pertinent perspectives)
  • Explain why it should be addressed, and outline your plan for addressing the problem or issue
  • Consider the outcomes that are likely to occur as a result of taking your approach to the issue/problem as well as those that may result from taking alternative courses of action; these outcomes should include the potential consequences for the various people or groups affected by this issue/problem
  • Display and explain an analysis or system map figure that articulates such features as cause and effect relationships, means and ends of objectives, and proposed interventions or strategies; additional figures and tables are recommended but are optional
  • Include a plan for monitoring and evaluating the outcomes of your proposed action
  • In addition to analyzing technological and scientific aspects of your chosen topic, you should also examine ethical, social, political, economic, and policy implication facets of this decision—these latter elements are important considerations and address major course objectives designed as part of the leadership enhancement opportunity represented by what is emphasized in this course
  • The report should include appropriate citations of all sources of information used in its development and a bibliographic reference list in the Reference section.

TERM PROJECT FINAL PRESENTATION: Submit a revised final version of your PowerPoint® Presentation that demonstrates your ability to handle a controversial topic in agriculture that would be presented to an audience who is dubious or skeptical of your position on the "wicked" problem that you have evaluated this semester.

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Category Description Action

Course Content Support

Questions related to course content or grading should be directed to the course instructor. Instructor via Canvas Inbox

Student Support

The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching is an organization dedicated to supporting, promoting, and enhancing teaching effectiveness and student learning at ISU.

Self-guided orientation which you may find useful.

CELT: Online Learner Support

Self-Guided Orientation

Canvas Technical Support

If you experience any technical issues while using Canvas, contact the Solution Center. The Solution Center's hours are posted on their website.

Solution Center

Technology support

If you have any technical issues while using the University Library's Course Reserves system, please refer to the Library's FAQ page.

For all other technical issues, contact Agron DevLab Support. The Agronomy Development Lab staff is guaranteed to respond to requests within 24 hours during regular business hours. All requests made during the weekend will be addressed first thing Monday morning.

Course Reserves FAQ


Agron DevLab Support

Writing Support

The MS Agronomy program has built a Writing Guide to help answer some of the questions you may have while working on your courses.

Ms. Amy Pollpeter is available for one-on-one consultations and can assist you with any part of the writing process. Schedule an appointment with Amy through the CELT's website or via email.

Writing Guide

CELT's website or via email.

Library and research support

Anita Kay is the liaison librarian to the Department of Agronomy. She can help find any article, book or any other piece of information that you want assistance finding.  Anita has also built a really useful Agronomy Research Guide (Links to an external site.).

Anita Kay
Agronomy Research Guide (Links to an external site.)

Department Contact

Contact Dr. Mary Wiedenhoeft, Associate Chair for Academics in Agronomy, if issues persist after working with the support systems listed above.

Dr. Mary Wiedenhoeft

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Course Summary:

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