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Feb 17th 2015

Agroecology, an introduction (FUN)

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Is it true that agroecology is THE solution to the challenges that agriculture faces today—feeding a growing population while conserving natural resources in a world where uncertainties about climate change, biodiversity, energy etc. keep intensifying?

Is agroecology a mere fad, or a significant scientific, technical and political revolution?

This course aims at helping you discover what agroecology is, through the complexity of the various approaches that have emerged over the years and in various regions of the world, and through the ways they can be implemented in the fields, and studied, as agricultural practices.

The syllabus has been designed at the interface of agronomy, ecology and social sciences. The course’s dynamic is one of participative learning, and heavily relies on the social and geographic diversity of the participants.


Why this course ?

- To discover what agroecology is about, as the term is gaining more and more visibility in the media and in political circles (especially in Europe and around UN agencies), and is stirring up hope for increased independence from industry among farmers and development advisors.

- To study the scientific foundation of agroecology through a multidisciplinary approach that includes agronomy, ecology, anthropology, soil science, sociology, zootechnics, and more.

- To interact with a diverse community: over 12,000 participants from 100 countries joined the first iteration of this course in October 2015.

- To experience innovative teaching methods designed by educators at Montpellier SupAgro and agreenium’s partnering organizations.


Who should take this course ?

- Anyone curious about agroecology: no prerequisite is required to benefit from this course.

- Professionals who want to expand their knowledge : they’ll find here a flexible learning platform built on the latest findings of scientific research and on-the-ground development projects.

- Students in need of training : they’ll be able to apply the scientific fundamentals that this course provides.

- Passionate agroecology practitioners or advocates who are eager to share their knowledge and skills, and to learn from others: this course is designed around information-sharing tools and opportunities among a widely diverse community of participants.


How this course works


This course has been developed on both theoretical knowledge, presented by Motpellier SupAgro academic team, and a collaborative learning approach where participants are invited to contribute their own knowledge, know-how and observations, especially through the mini-report activity embedded throughout the syllabus.

Indeed, the red line that will guide each student throughout the course will be provided by one practical example of agroecological principles that the student will select on Week 1. Each week, the student will spend about 1 hour developing a mini-report on that example, through a series of guided steps. Week 5 will be wholly devoted to the mini-reports—including sharing and discussing. .

Finally, every week, auto-corrected exercises and peer-reviewed assignments will give participants opportunities to test their progress and assimilate further the content that this course provides.


Syllabus

This course is designed to unfold over 6 consecutive weeks.

Week 1 : Setting up the context—the emergence of agroecology

Week 2 : Narrowing down a definition—the various approaches to agroecology

Weeks 3 and 4 : A view from the trenches—agroecology as a set of agricultural practices

Week 5 : How does agroecology show up in your neck of the woods—focus on students’ mini-reports

Week 6 : What’s next—the transition to agroecology


By the time students complete this course, they’ll be able to :

- grasp the various approaches to agroecology at the interface of agronomy, ecology and human sciences. Students will understand how implementing agroecological principles transforms agro-ecosystems.

- position the emergence of agroecology in its various dimensions (science, practice, social movements) in a historical and geographic context.

- describe and analyze situations where agroecological practices are implemented.

- identify agroecological practices in their own surroundings and analyze the way they’re implemented, identifying levers for action as well as obstacles along the agroecological transition.