UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 09 | May
Graduate seeks vital link
Agent of change sets sights on land, food and community
by Bruce Mason staff writer
Living in the Lower Mainland, Erin Sawyer has seen strip
malls and subdivisions
spring from soil where crops were once cultivated and animals grazed.
"We've lost a vital link -- our awareness of where food comes
from," says the
Faculty of Agricultural Sciences student who has earned a Bachelor of Science
in Global Resource Systems. "It doesn't suddenly appear on the table or in supermarkets."
Sawyer is among the more than 5,000 students who will graduate during the 22
Spring Congregation ceremonies spanning May 23-30. Twelve honorary degrees will
also be conferred.
She isn't surprised that sensational headlines on foot and mouth disease, E.
coli and contaminated water are raising concern and awareness.
"We need to get back in touch with food, back in tune with the environment,"
The Faculty of Agricultural Sciences has refocused on land, food
It's attracting more urban and international students who want to be agents
for change, says Agricultural Sciences Dean Moura Quayle.
Sawyer, who intended to become a veterinarian, became more
interested in conservation
and finding connections between urban and rural life.
"One new program, Global Resource Systems, appealed to me because real contact
with people and cultures made resource economics much more interesting."
The program requires a resource specialization such as sustainable agriculture
or international development and a regional specialization in Africa, the Asia
Pacific, Europe or the Americas.
Sawyer, who specialized in resource economics, studied for a term in New
There she saw a much different agricultural system, she says.
Now she's landed a dream job -- volunteer co-ordinator for an Agricultural
Sciences initiative to integrate existing south and mid-campus farm
a centre for sustainable urban agriculture.
"It's me," says Sawyer. "I want everyone to help prune the
vineyard and trees,
to get their hands in soil and grow food and awareness."
See also: Graduates think,
act locally and globally