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Book chapter2012Peer reviewedOpen access

Future visions for experiential education in the agroecology learning landscape.

Francis, Charles; Moncure, Shannon; Jordan, Nicholas; Breland, TA.; Lieblein, Geir; Salomonsson, Lennart; Wiedenhoeft, M.; Morse, Suzanne R.; Porter, Paul; King, James; Perillo, Catherine A.; Moulton, Mike


Experiential learning is gaining momentum as the favored educational strategy in agroecology and similar applied fields in agriculture, food systems, and other sectors of university education. Based on centuries-old methods of apprenticeship and hands-on learning, this approach has gained recognition in the academic community starting with the pioneering research and applications by John Dewey more than a century ago. With the added theoretical rigor of David Kolb's learning cycle, experiential learning as a cyclical process is now at the forefront of educational innovation. With a goal of preparing agroecologists for responsible dedication to the goals of stakeholders in farming and in rural communities, strategies in systems action education are being developed to move important structured learning activities out of the ivory towers of academia and into the context of real world challenges. Systemic analysis and evaluation of current systems and development of viable future alternatives using multiple criteria for measuring success are central to the learning process. Moving from a focus on systems components to holistic visions of how those systems can better meet human needs, we help students articulate their personal goals to preserve the environment and increase future production potential. Building competencies in future agroecologists requires learning and practicing biological, ecological and social science methods, and both individual and social learning are essential to the process. Several models that have been implemented in the Nordic Region, United States, and France are presented to illustrate the learning approach, and open-ended case study methods in the field and community provide the heart of this education. Agroecology students acquire and develop new knowledge and skills, examine and critique their personal attitudes toward stakeholders and integrated systems, and recognize the importance of underlying values in the conduct of their work. Agroecology as the ecology of food systems provides a framework for students to understand and integrate multiple objectives in production, economics, environmental impacts, and social viability of farming and food systems, and experiential learning is central to their education.

Published in

Issues in Agroecology – Present Status and Future Prospectus
2012, number: 2, pages: 1-105
Title: Integrating Agriculture, Conservation and Ecotourism: Societal Influences
ISBN: 978-94-007-4484-4
Publisher: Springer Science + Business Media, Dordre

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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