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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2011

Innovative Education in Agroecology: Experiential Learning for a Sustainable Agriculture

Francis, Charles; Jordan, NR; Porter, Paul; Breland, Tor Arvid; Lieblein, Geir; Salomonsson, Lennart; Sriskandarajah, Nadarajah; Wiedenhoeft, M.; DeHaan, R; Braden, I; Langer, V


The transdisciplinary field of agroecology provides a platform for experiential learning based on an expanded vision of research on sustainable farming and food systems and the application of results in creating effective learning landscapes for students. With increased recognition of limitations of fossil fuels, fresh water, and available farmland, educators are changing focus from strategies to reach maximum yields to those that feature resource use efficiency and resilience of production systems in a less benign climate. To help students deal with complexity and uncertainty and a wide range of biological and social dimensions of the food challenge, a whole-systems approach that involves life-cycle analysis and consideration of long-term impacts of systems is essential. Seven educational case studies in the Nordic Region and the U.S. Midwest demonstrate how educators can incorporate theory of the ecology of food systems with the action learning component needed to develop student potentials to create responsible change in society. New roles of agroecology instructors and students are described as they pursue a co-learning strategy to develop and apply technology to assure the productivity and security of future food systems.


action education; service learning; transdisciplinary education; systems education; holistic learning; integrated systems

Published in

Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences
2011, volume: 30, number: 1-2, article number: PII 937016472

Authors' information

Francis, Charles
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Jordan, NR
Porter, Paul
University of Minnesota
Breland, Tor Arvid
No organisation
Lieblein, Geir
No organisation
Salomonsson, Lennart
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development
Sriskandarajah, Nadarajah
Wiedenhoeft, M.
DeHaan, R
Dordt College
Braden, I
Southeast Missouri State University
Langer, V

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG2 Zero hunger
SDG4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

UKÄ Subject classification

Other Agricultural Sciences not elsewhere specified

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)