Innovative education in agroecology: Experiential learning for a sustainable agriculture

C. A. Francis, N. Jordan, P. Porter, T. A. Breland, G. Lieblein, L. Salomonsson, N. Sriskandarajah, M. Wiedenhoeft, R. DeHaan, I. Braden, V. Langer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


The transdisciplinary field of agroecology provides a platform for experiential learning based on an expanded vision of research on sustainable farming and food systems and the application of results in creating effective learning landscapes for students.With increased recognition of limitations of fossil fuels, fresh water, and available farmland, educators are changing focus fromstrategies to reach maximum yields to those that feature resource use efficiency and resilience of production systems in a less benign climate. To help students deal with complexity and uncertainty and a wide range of biological and social dimensions of the food challenge, a whole-systems approach that involves life-cycle analysis and consideration of long-term impacts of systems is essential. Seven educational case studies in the Nordic Region and the U.S. Midwest demonstrate how educators can incorporate theory of the ecology of food systems with the action learning component needed to develop student potentials to create responsible change in society. New roles of agroecology instructors and students are described as they pursue a co-learning strategy to develop and apply technology to assure the productivity and security of future food systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-237
Number of pages12
JournalCritical Reviews in Plant Sciences
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Action education
  • Holistic learning
  • Integrated systems
  • Service learning
  • Systems education
  • Transdisciplinary education


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