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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2008

Individualized student-centred education: prototype for an agroecology BSc programme

Waldenstrom, Cecilia; Salomonsson, Lennart; Francis, Charles; Moulton, Mike; Lieblein, Geir

Abstract

Students in agricultural universities follow a rather conventional and structured sequence of courses in specific discipline subjects. Here, a BSc programme in agroecology is proposed that will build on the unique competencies and prior experiences of each student, and will combine individual paths through the learning landscape with team projects and other group work to ensure social learning. Drawing on experiential learning theory and action learning, and confronting some of the perceived weaknesses in these theories, the programme is geared to build confidence in graduates to deal with complexity and uncertainty in future agricultural and food systems. Academic study will therefore be combined with field internships and frequent interactions with a range of people who are active in the farming and food system. Much of the learning will be accomplished outside of traditional academic boundaries. This, as well as the proposed blended use of electronic media in education, may present challenges to teachers and faculties. Teachers will need support to reconsider their roles and to redesign courses. Yet, we believe that steps can be taken in the direction of the proposed programme. There are already several examples of models for organizing teaching that can offer inspiration.

Keywords

action education; agroecology; experiential education; farming systems; food systems

Published in

International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability
2008, Volume: 6, number: 4, pages: 236-247
Publisher: EARTHSCAN