Students around the world will be able to enrol for a free six week online course on Agriculture, Economics and Nature thanks to a sponsorship arrangement between Yara Pilbara and The University of Western Australia.
Yara Pilbara is funding the development of the Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC, in a landmark collaboration between industry and UWA with the aim of sharing WA's advanced agricultural knowledge and expertise with people across Australia and around the globe.
The course is the first initiative to flow from a broader memorandum of understanding between Yara Pilbara and the University which was officially signed at a ceremony today.
Yara Pilbara's parent company, Yara International ASA is the world's largest producer of ammonia nitrate and complex fertiliser, responsible for 20 per cent of the global ammonia trade.
"The world is going to have to feed nine billion people by 2050 and the challenge is to do so without consuming more resources. By sharing our agricultural techniques and expertise with people around the world we are helping to create a more sustainable future," said UWA Vice- Chancellor Professor Paul Johnson.
The course instructor Professor David Pannell is one of Australia's leading economists working in the areas of agriculture, natural resources and environment.
"This course is about agricultural production and the interaction between agriculture and the environment. We'll look at key issues affecting agriculture and show how they can be understood, and sometimes shaped, using economic principles" said Professor Pannell.
Course materials include video interviews with Western Australian farmers, scientists and economists, discussing issues ranging from fertiliser use to environmental management.
"The key economic principles discussed in the course will help to foster greater understanding about agricultural production methods, input levels, resource conservation and the balance between agricultural production and its environmental impacts" said Professor Pannell.
Yara Pilbara CEO Mark Loquan said the company was keen to support UWA through the memorandum of understanding as it aligns with Yara's vision of being an industry shaper and a positive force for performance and growth.
"At Yara we believe in creating impact by sharing knowledge and actively being part of the solution to complex and urgent global issues," said Mr Loquan.
"Yara has been a vocal advocate of "climate-smart" agriculture, which is the push to jointly address food security and climate challenges. For our company that includes being at the forefront of improving water efficiency in farming by facilitating the production of more crops for every kilo of fertiliser and drop of water."
The course is delivered in six modules which include lecture videos and a quiz designed to test participants' understanding of the material.
"MOOCs offer students the opportunity to study high quality courses online with prestigious universities, such as UWA, at no cost," said Professor Johnson.
"They're not designed to replace university degrees, but they are well suited to someone considering further tertiary study or someone looking to enhance their personal and professional development." According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, more than six million people worldwide have signed up for a MOOC since 2011.
The MOOC will begin on February 2 2015 and run for six weeks. Further information, including how to sign up for the course, is available here.
Yara delivers solutions for sustainable agriculture and the environment. Our fertilizers and crop nutrition programs help produce the food required for the growing world population. Our industrial products and solutions reduce emissions, improve air quality and support safe and efficient operations. Founded in Norway in 1905, Yara has a worldwide presence with sales to 150 countries. Safety is always our top priority.
Professor David Pannell (Director UWA Centre for Environment Economics and Policy, Head UWA School of Agriculture and Resource Economics) (+61 8) 6488 4735
David Stacey (UWA Media Manager) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 32 637 716