Special Issue: Principles-based Approaches in Agroecology
This feature or special issue in Elementa Journal aims to better understand the implications of principles based approaches to agreocology through case studies, opinions, research papers, conceptual developments and critical perspectives from authors working in different contexts.
In the last decade, the field of agroecology has gained increased recognition in a variety of spaces and through different applications. These include a growing interest from academics, through both research and teaching/training (science); its direct application in farms and landscapes (practice); and as a guiding and supporting approach to agricultural and rural social movements and grassroots organizations (e.g. Via Campesina). Since its early days as an emerging scientific field, agroecologists proposed the use of ‘principles’ to guide its research and applications.
The term principle(s) has been defined in different ways, so it is important to start this introduction by being clear about how we understand it in this special feature. The Oxford English Dictionary defines principle as “… a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning” (Oxford English Dictionary). In his book on principles-based evaluation (2007), Patton adds to this definition that “evidence-based effective principles assume that while the principles remain the same, in implementing principles there will necessarily and appropriately be adaptation within and across contexts.”
Patton’s definition of an evidence-based principle is the one that best fits the goal of this special feature, as it views agroecological principles as applicable to a variety of settings, allowing for flexibility and adaptability in each context. The general objective of this Elementa special feature is to critically examine how the use of principles in agroecology has evolved (both conceptually and empirically), where it currently stands, and how it can support the advancement of the field in the future. There is a growing interest and hope that agroecology is a leading, emergent approach to support the sustainable and just transformation of our agrifood systems.
Following recent developments in the use of agroecology principles, by a diversity of actors, this special feature explicitly pursues contributions that represent agroecology as a multidimensional approach, which encompasses its confluence as science, social movements and agricultural practices. In particular, we are interested in manuscripts that integrate all three of these aspects into both conceptual examinations and practical applications.