The purpose of The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) is to bring together the diverse interests of the agricultural community with interests from across the University community in a cooperative effort to develop and promote sustainable agriculture in Minnesota and beyond.

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Guiding Principles for MISA Activities

Economic, Ecological, and Social Effects

MISA believes that agriculture is a system in which the land, the people and the production of food are interwoven. One aspect of the system cannot be changed without influencing all of it. MISA believes that all efforts to improve agriculture should take care to balance the long-term economic, ecological and social effects.

Positive Synergy

MISA believes that people of diverse interests who work together cooperatively can produce a positive effect that is greater than the sum of their individual efforts. This positive effect is known as synergy. MISA's intention is to create opportunities for people to work cooperatively on issues of sustainable agriculture in a way that promotes synergy.

Healthy Debate

It is MISA's intention to promote sustainable agriculture through all of its various activities. In doing so, MISA welcomes input from any interested parties, and will encourage healthy and vigorous debate.

Balance of Power

MISA is founded upon a balance of power between the Sustainers' Coalition and the University of Minnesota. This balance is reflected in the composition of the MISA Board of Directors and in MISA's other governance structures. In addition to this internal balance, MISA seeks to achieve an appropriate balance of influence on the University between sustainable and conventional agricultural interests.

Goals and Objectives

Increase the University's response to the needs of the sustainable agriculture community and increase practitioners' influence on the University.

  • Increase communication and mutual exchange between the University and sustainable agriculture practitioners.
  • Increase the influence of farmers and their practical knowledge on the faculty of the University.
  • Increase practitioners' access to faculty.
  • Increase practitioners' access to information and literature.
  • Identify gaps in knowledge of farmers and of the University faculty.

Facilitate the internalization of sustainable agriculture into the University so that the concepts permeate teaching, research and extension.

  • Influence the movement of funds to researchers for sustainable agriculture.
  • Foster teamwork on sustainable agriculture by funding interdisciplinary research projects, supporting undergraduate and graduate academic programs, and fostering partnerships.
  • Design and implement an endowed rotating chair in sustainable agriculture.
  • Create a climate of political support for sustainable agriculture among Minnesotans.
  • Increase the opportunities for students and faculty to be exposed to sustainable agriculture issues and discussions both on and off campus.

Work with rural communities in discovering and implementing the values of sustainability

  • Develop a method for defining the sustainability of agricultural systems and for assessing their impacts on rural communities.
  • Promote sustainable community development principles throughout the State.