University of Vermont

Office of Community-University Partnerships & Service Learning

CBR Faculty Member V. Ernesto Mendez

Posted by Amy Lipsitz | February 26, 2013

The field of agroecology has recently received increasing attention from a variety of stakeholders, including academics, policy-makers, development practitioners and farmers and their organizations. The roots of agroecology can be traced to the 1930s. In its original conceptualization, agroecology sought to integrate ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of agricultural systems. However, as interest in the field has grown, debates as to what it really means have emerged. I recently guest edited the inaugural special issue of the re-titled journal Agroecology and Food Systems (formerly Journal of Sustainable Agriculture), with my colleagues Chris Bacon and Rose Cohen, which will be open access for a limited time. Through this compilation of papers we tried to differentiate between different types of agroecologies, and to make a case for an agroecological approach that is grounded in transdisciplinarity, participatory action research and an interest in transforming existing agrifood systems. This may seem wordy to some, but it is worth teasing out the meaning of these terms and reflecting on their importance. We perceive transdisciplinarity as an approach that integrates different academic disciplines, as well as non-academic knowledge (e.g. experiential, cultural), and which is problem-oriented. Participatory action research seeks to bring together researchers and non-researches in an iterative process that includes investigating, reflecting and acting. Finally, by transformative, we mean that we are interested in changing the pervasive political economic structures responsible for a deteriorating agrifood system model. Continue Reading...