Giannini Hall at night
Evolution of Agricultural Economics at UC Berkeley
The College of Agriculture is the cornerstone of the University of California system, a land-grant college established in 1868 when the California legislature established the University of California in Berkeley, and the federal Morrill Act established a national system of research stations to foster teaching and research related to agriculture. UC Berkeley became the first state-run Agricultural Experiment Station and the first land-grant college in California.
In 1974, the schools of agriculture and forestry joined with other biological, environmental, and food sciences to become the College of Natural Resources, which to this day takes an interdisciplinary, big-picture approach to the complex issues that affect agriculture and the environment.
The University’s interests in rural economics and institutions were dispersed throughout the College of Agriculture until 1925, when Purnell Act permitted the first funding of agricultural economics and rural sociology in Land Grant Universities.
The Division of Agricultural Economics formed that same year from faculty in Agricultural Extension, the Division of Farm Management, and the Division of Rural Institutions.
In 1928, a gift from banker and alumnus A. P. Giannini would catapult the University to the forefront of the emerging agricultural economics profession, bring validity to areas of economic inquiry, other than farm management and rural institutions.
Throughout much growth and change in the ensuing century, the department and the discipline have remained leaders in the questions that get asked and the tool used to address them.