Above: Berry Center Executive Director Mary Berry Smith, left, and St. Catharine College President William D. Huston, right, announced on Feb. 27 a partnership to offer a new degree program in farming.
The Berry Center of New Castle, Kentucky and St. Catharine College have announced an agreement and partnership to provide a vital, interdisciplinary degree program in farming and ecological agrarianism. The program will embed academic coursework with fieldwork and immersion experiences, using nature as the standard, in an effort to bring awareness, knowledge and cohesiveness to students interested in farming, rural communities, local economies, agriculture, geographical sustainability, and stewardship for the land.
The campus of St. Catharine College is located just outside of Springfield, Kentucky and is situated amidst well-tended farms in the geographical center of the state. The College continues to grow and it will soon see the completion of its new Emily W. Hundley Library and Center for Graduate Studies. The Library will not only provide students with the most current advances in information technology, but starting with writings that have inspired the work of Wendell Berry, it will seek to provide the most complete agricultural collection in the state.
William D. Huston, President of St. Catharine College, was extremely enthusiastic about what this partnership will mean for the students of St. Catharine, as well as for the future of Kentucky, the nation, and potentially the world. According to President Huston, "The work that The Berry Center is doing in collecting and archiving the papers of the Berry family, coupled with our collaboration with them as we develop this program and other offerings, will enable students to learn from the past in order to shape the future. St. Catharine College continually strives to stand among the foremost private colleges in the country known for innovative academic and student development programs, the spirited loyalty of our alumni, and the contribution of our graduates to society. This partnership with The Berry Center, Wendell Berry and his family takes us a long way in achieving these goals."
The Berry Center continues the passion of Kentucky author Wendell Berry, his father, John M. Berry, Sr., a lawyer, farmer and co-author of the Burley Tobacco Program, his brother, John M. Berry, Jr., lawyer, state senator and farmer and the life-long focus they have placed on conservation, farming, and the economic and human health of local communities. Thus, the partnership between The Berry Center and St. Catharine College is a natural fit.
According to Mary Berry Smith, daughter of Wendell Berry and executive director of The Berry Center, "It is our intention to bring awareness and solutions to the issues confronting farming families in Kentucky and around the country. This degree program will ultimately bring cohesiveness and focus to issues of land use, farm policy, and local food infrastructure. We want to offer a solid farming education for our rural students who hope to continue farming or establish new family farms. And the interdisciplinary nature of this program will provide a meaningful education to anyone concerned with stewardship for the land. We are establishing this partnership with St. Catharine College in order to empower students to create a healthy and sustainable agricultural enterprise in our state and the nation."
St. Catharine College serves as Kentucky's only Dominican College. Embedded within the mission, vision and ethos of the College are the Four Pillars of Dominican Life, which promote Prayer, Study, Ministry, and Community as the means to engender mutual respect, care and concern for each other, all life and the Earth. Such stewardship is actually the most sincere form of love. And according to Wendell Berry, "We must love. And we must love what we do. So we should always ask, 'What works does this love propose?' St. Catharine College and The Berry Center want to begin to answer that question with this partnership."
It should be noted that Wendell Berry has just been named the 41st Jefferson Lecturer in Humanities. The annual lecture, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), is the most prestigious honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities. Berry will present the 41st Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities on Monday, April 23, 2012 at 7:30 PM at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. In the lecture, "It All Turns on Affection," Berry will discuss man's interaction with nature, as depicted in history, philosophy, and literature. (NEH Press Release; February 6, 2012)
For more information on the partnership between The Berry Center and St. Catharine College, or the degree program itself, please contact Mary Berry Smith, Executive Director of The Berry Center at 502 845 9200 or Dr. Don Giles, St. Catharine College's Vice President for Academic Affairs at 859-336-5082.