Case 1.

Agroecology: Action learning in Farming and Food Systems

Where: Norway   

Main stakeholders involved: MSc students in Agroecology  and faculty

Multi-actor approach in case: Farmers and students solving real sustainability issues on farms.

Expected outcome: A master’s course in Agroecology , which in 2016 earned a national prize in Norway for excellence in higher education, constitutes the case. Its base is experiential, action-based and action-oriented learning where competence development and life-long learning by the student—the new agroecologist—is equally important as the subject—agroecology.

The ultimate goals of the master’s course are to reduce the distance between academia and society and to bridge the all too frequent gap between knowing and doing with regard to complex challenges such as sustainability of agrifood systems. After pursuing these goals for almost two decades, the following competences have emerged as particularly important for an agroecologist: participation, observation, dialogue, visioning and reflection.

In a participatory manner involving students, stakeholders and faculty, the case is continuously exploring theory and methods for fostering these key skills. This has resulted in several peer-reviewed publications. The core faculty also are involved in developing education based on similar principles in the other Nordic countries, Italy, Ethiopia, Uganda, India and United States. Thus, action research is being carried out, not only to improve the case as such, but also to gain insights that can be adapted and used elsewhere to pursue similar goals.