University of Vermont

Agroecology and Rural Livelihoods Group

Instructors for the XIV International Agroecology Shortcourse

One of the highlights of the International Agroecology shortcourses is the team of instructors who join together to share their expertise with participants. This year's group includes some of the pioneers from the field of agroecology, who will be joined by UVM faculty, local leaders in the Vermont Food System, and our farm partners.

V. Ernesto Méndez


Ernesto Méndez focuses on developing and applying transdisciplinary approaches that analyze interactions between agriculture, livelihoods and environmental conservation in tropical and temperate rural landscapes, drawing mostly from the field of agroecology. Most of his work utilizes a Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach in an effort to directly support sustainable agriculture, conservation and rural development. A native of El Salvador, he has fifteen years of experience doing research and development work with smallholder farmers in Mexico and Central America. Recent projects focus on food sovereignty of coffee farmers and cooperatives in Mexico, Nicaragua and El Salvador. In Vermont, projects include a landscape agricultural multifunctionality study and a PAR project on agricultural resilience to climate change. Dr. Méndez is a founding member, past co-director and current board member of the Community Agroecology Network (CAN).

Stephen R. Gliessman


Stephen R. Gliessman is the co-founder of the non-profit Community Agroecology Network (CAN), and has worked in Mexico, Latin America and California for more than 40 years. As an agroecologist, he integrates science, practice, and activism. He helped establish Agroecology in Mexico in the 1970’s, and founded the first academic program in Agroecology in the world in 1982 at UCSC, where he is now Professor Emeritus of Agroecology. Dr. Gliessman teaches courses and seminars in agroecology in many parts of the world. He has published broadly in agroecology, including his textbook Agroecology, and is the Editor of the journal Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. He is also farms sustainably-grown wine grapes and olives with his family in southern California.

Roberta (Robbie) Jaffe


Roberta (Robbie) Jaffe is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of CAN. She has more than 20 years experience in non-profit management, is a lecturer in the Environmental Studies department at the University of California, Santa Cruz and is an author of several curriculum guides on using school gardens. Robbie was the Founding Director of the Life Lab Science Program, which grew into a groundbreaking nonprofit organization that works with schools throughout the United States to develop school gardens and curriculum for teaching science and nutrition.

Hector Cálix de Dios


Hector Cálix de Dios was born in Tabasco, Mexico. He has a degree in Agronomy and a Master's degree in Botany. Hector is the coordinator of the Agroecology degree program at Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo (UIMQRoo), in Mexico, and specializes in the sudy of the cultivation the species Hylocereus undatus (Pitahaya). Since 2011 he has been part of the research team in the CAN/UIMQRoo Food Security and Sovereignty Project funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The project is currently focused on promoting food security through alternative markets, rural entrepreneurship, and promoting best agroecological practices in rural communities of Quintana Roo state.

Laura Trujillo


As an ecologist working in an agricultural university, Laura Trujillo thought, in 1989, that it was necessary that every agronomist know ecology; that idea finally evolved, and it resulted in the first degree in Agroecology in 1991. She then completed her PH.D. in Environmental Studies at the University of California Santa Cruz with Dr. Steven Gliessman. Her ideas progressed to explore the relationship between political ecology and agroecology, an approach she applied to my research as Professor at the University of Chapingo, México, working with coffee producers, women's savings groups, and food sovereignty projects. Laura has also recently cofounded an undergraduate degree program in Agrofood Networks.

Carlos Guadarrama-Zugasti


Carlos Guadarrama-Zugasti has a Ph. D. in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has 32 years of experience teaching and performing research at the Universidad Autonoma Chapingo, Mexico, and co-founded Agroecology major there in 1991 as well as the new Agro-food Networks major in 2012. He has published in the areas of peasant economy, environmental education, agroecology, indicators of sustainability, and rural development among other topics and is a member of the editorial board of Journal of Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. Recently, Carlos has been working on participatory research projects in food sovereignty and agroecology.

Heather R. Putnam


Heather R. Putnam has over a decade of experience working with smallholder coffee farmers and organizations in Central America, Brazil, and Uganda, working with them on projects ranging from community-based rural tourism, reforestation, alternative market chain development, developing international relationships with the student fair trade movement, and most recently, in food security and sovereignty with CAN.   Heather received her PhD in Geography from the University of Kansas in 2013 and currently manages the Action Research Initiatives program at CAN.


Christopher M. Bacon


Christopher M. Bacon is an environmental social scientist and agroecologist interested in deepening and diversifying a dialogue about interdependent society-nature relationships. His work is informed by formal training in environmental studies, the wisdom of practical teachers, insight from marginal communities, and student curiosity. Dr. Bacon is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Santa Clara University and the founder of the Community Agroecology Network's partnerships in Nicaragua. Several ongoing collaborations with colleagues contribute to an evolving participatory action research agenda that addresses issues of agricultural and environmental governance, sustainability, and environmental justice. Much of his research compares alternative and conventional food systems, using fair trade and organic coffee as an extended case study. A trio of evaluative concepts, including livelihood vulnerabilities (especially hunger and food insecurity), agro-biodiversity conservation and gendered empowerment are useful for interpreting the field research results. These outcomes connect to global food regulation through recent work studying value chain governance, certifications, and the standards setting processes. Current research projects also address environmental and food justice in California.

Last modified May 09 2013 09:07 AM

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