Issues 360 Course Helps Students Navigate Issues, Advocate for Agriculture 

Written by: Jo Thomas; Academic Advisor  

In the world that we live in today, we are constantly faced with very controversial issues and have to find ways to navigate around them, especially in agriculture. Issues-360 is a course designed to help students identify issues and communicate through them with confidence.  

The course is filled with multiple sessions, speakers, and retreats designed to bring students more together as a cohort and help develop communication skills together. Meeting once a month, students focus on controversial topics in agriculture and engage in active listening. In addition to monthly meetings, students attend a fall and spring retreat off campus. 

Students enrolled in the course must also complete a final project where they identify a key controversial issue of their choice, break down the issue and present it to their cohorts. As part of the project, students reach out to professionals in whatever industry they choose.  

Chase Gripp (Applied Agricultural Economics; Sheffield, IL) made the decision to join the Issues-360 program after his freshmen year. “This program was everything I could of hoped for and more. Learning how to navigate around these issues is one of the most valuable skills I believe any individual can have in today’s environment, especially with all of the scrutiny being place on agriculture nowadays.” 

Through his experience, Chase found learning first-hand from experienced professionals to be one of the most beneficial aspects of the course. “Learning how these professionals navigate the issues they are presented with in their professional lives gave all of us valuable insight that we can use for the future.”  



Laura Barrett (Commodity Marketing; Rockford, OH) heard of the Issues-360 course prior to becoming a student at Purdue. “On tours of campus they really focused on how much the Ag Com department values engagement, especially through this program.” 

For Laura, Issues-360 went above and beyond the traditional classroom structure and gave her new perspective. “We had a great group of students that ranged from all different majors, career goals, backgrounds, political affiliations and beliefs. However we still became really close and learned from each other. My favorite memory was witnessing two polar opposite opinions debating in a very civil and informative way where both parties just wanted to hear where the other was coming from. Their conversation lasted for about 5 hours and perfectly displayed all we had been learning from Issues 360.” 

Each class is considered a cohort group and will be considered class fellows even after graduation.  Laura Barrett and Chase Gripp will be considered part of cohorts six and seven, respectively. 

Based on his experience, Chase encourages all students who can, to get involved.   

“With the help of Dr. Fernandez, Dr. Tucker, Dr. Pfeiffer, and many more, the members of the Class Six Cohort walked away from the Issue-360 program more knowledgeable and prepared to tackle whatever our future has in store. Every single member of the College of Agriculture should want to be apart of this amazing program. It was more valuable that I could of ever imagined and the skills learned within the Cohorts get used more than you could possibly imagine.” 


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