Martha Caswell
Co-Director, Agroecology and Livelihoods Collaborative

What’s working well? What’s not? What can we learn from the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion? Whether we are talking about communities, landscapes, or agroecological practices, these questions have always been at the core of my work. My curiosity has taken me from large urban areas of the US to small agricultural communities in Latin America. With a background in policy, my experience crosses many areas including public health, housing, food justice, migrant communities, climate change resilience, livelihood diversification strategies, and food security/sovereignty. 

My early career focused on issues related to urban poverty. Now, most of my work is with smallholder farmers and people engaging in urban agroecology.  I have moved between working on the ground in communities and looking at the issues from a distance; here at UVM, Participatory Action Research (PAR) allows me to combine my commitment to grassroots work and applied research. As co-director of the ALC, my understanding of agroecology continues to evolve thanks to the courses I teach and my involvement in our mix of projects and ongoing PAR processes. The cross-fertilization of practical and theoretical approaches keeps me thinking about how to make my work both useful and relevant – in multiple ways, and at multiple levels. As a PhD student, I look forward to applying the frameworks of agroecological principles, cultural ecosystem services, and relational values to explore people’s conceptualization of and motivations for pursuing food sovereignty.

  • Ph.D. Student, Rubenstein School of Environment & Natural Resources, University of Vermont (present)
  • Master of Public Policy, University of Chicago (2003)
  • B.A. in American Studies, University of Michigan (1997)
  • CV English
Areas of interest

Agroecology, food sovereignty, participatory action research (PAR), scholar activism

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