While distance education courses have expanded course offerings in the agricultural sciences, programs to increase interaction among minority serving and predominately white institutions have been lacking. To address this need, we delivered a synchronously taught undergraduate course on sustainable agriculture to students at Haskell Indian Nations University and at Purdue University for three semesters from 2010 to 2012. Students participated in three main activities: lectures, reciprocal campus visits and a project in which each student interviewed two to three adults about their perspectives on the sustainability of U.S. agriculture. Quantitative and qualitative data were used to determine student engagement and program assessment. Students at both universities posted comments and questions frequently during the lectures and were generally satisfied with the technology used to deliver the lectures. As measured by the number of comments and questions posted during the lectures, Native American males were particularly engaged by course content. The interest of Native American males in working in multicultural groups also increased significantly during the semester although no differences were detected for Purdue males or for women at either institution. Students emphasized the importance of the reciprocal visits and projects for getting to know each other outside the classroom in both written and verbal comments. Our results suggest that students from culturally diverse institutions can be engaged during synchronously taught courses using distance-learning technologies.


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