This fall, the first cohort of students enrolled in the Faculty of Management’s minor in Agricultural Enterprise Management, thanks to a $5-million donation from local agricultural entrepreneur Cor Van Raay.
Dr. Shamsul Alam, professor of finance, associate dean in the Faculty of Management and director of management graduate programs, says the new program is designed to fill a gap in post-secondary education - the vision Van Raay set out with his donation.
“We are offering a minor right now but are in the process of developing a major in collaboration with Lethbridge College and the Faculty of Arts & Science.”
The six-course minor will proceed at the same time as planning is underway to develop streams where students will be able to earn several credentials in Agricultural Enterprise Management.
“We are developing a pathway for the students through which they can earn a certificate, a diploma and a degree,” says Alam.
In planning the program, the Faculty of Management consulted with stakeholders in the agricultural community, including producers, business owners and professionals in the industry. From there, the core competencies of the program and its objectives were developed. Students will gain expertise in policy regulations, operations, financing and marketing, and demonstrate skills in analyzing and interpreting the market environment, creating and implementing a human resource strategy and complying with agricultural regulatory requirements.
“We’ll be dealing with the downstream side of the agriculture sector. That includes managing primary production in terms of marketing, finance and risk management,” says Alam, adding students don’t have to have experience in agriculture to enter the program. “They will develop an understanding of the needs of the producers and marketers, and the market environment.”
Students are currently taking an introductory course in agricultural enterprise management and three more courses will be offered in the spring. Other course offerings include agriculture marketing and sales, agricultural finance and market, visual analytics, small business, entrepreneurship, supply chain management, issues in agriculture and business, Canadian and world agriculture, and managing responsibly in agriculture. Overall, students can choose from 10 courses to fulfil requirements in the minor.
Alam says special care was taken not to duplicate agricultural programs at other universities in Canada. Given the southern Alberta economy is based on agriculture and energy and prices can be volatile, risk management is essential, he adds. An asset for the program is the Faculty’s Centre for Financial Market Research and Teaching, also known as the Trading Room, which is equipped with the necessary software and platforms for students to learn about markets, from their structures and principles to pricing.
“We’ll be educating students how to apply those instruments so we can manage the risk,” says Alam. “We are also pursuing to hire a Chair in commodity risk management.”
Alam expects the degree program in Agricultural Enterprise Management will be ready to accept students in the fall of 2018.
More information on the Agriculture Enterprise Management Minor can be found here.