Agro-ecology is a transdisciplinary, action oriented, participatory approach to moving food systems towards sustainability. It is grounded in the science of ecology (i.e. the science of how nature works) with its system focus. It is also grounded in the practical experience of farming that is place-based, steeped in local knowledge and experience, and builds on a farmer-to-farmer knowledge exchange process. And finally, it is part of a current and growing social movement for food system change that brings food security, food sovereignty, and food justice to all parts and people in the food system, from local to global. All three components are considered essential for doing agro-ecology. The proposed curriculum is designed for students who have an undergraduate degree in the natural sciences related to food systems (agronomy, ecology, agro-ecology, pest management, etc.) or in the social sciences related to food systems (agricultural economics, sociology of food, rural development, political economy, etc.). The course is designed for two years on a semester system, including a summer session in between the two years. It could be extended to three years by requiring fewer courses per semester, and offering more electives, especially field experiences. Students who complete this degree will be prepared to work on the complex problems facing food systems in today’s world. The degree will prepare them to think and act way beyond the basic need for increasing production, and instead, be able to tackle the much larger issues of providing food security, food sovereignty, and food justice in a world facing political, economic, and ecological changes, including globalization, corporatization, and concentration in the food system, as well as climate change impacts. Graduates of this curriculum will be problem solvers, change agents, and innovators able to collaborate and participate with multiple stakeholders in the food system, and will do so with a sense of fairness, equity, and justice.
Date of publication:
RUFORUM Working document series