PSS_311_Syllabus 2020

This hybrid, graduate level, 4-week course presents an in-depth overview of research and applications in the field of agroecology. The first three weeks of the course are online, and the last week students will participate in an alternative online experience that engages with our local Vermont partners and their farms.

The course seeks to provide students with both conceptual and practical content, covering the evolution of the field of agroecology, from its origins to the present, as it gains increasing recognition in scientific, policy, social movement and farming spaces. Students will engage in some of the debates agroecologists are now facing, as they grapple with maintaining the core characteristics of the field as it is increasingly applied by a wide diversity of actors. A special emphasis is placed on discussing the different expressions of agroecology as a science, a social movement and a practice. We will consider the intersections of agroecology and transdisciplinarity, as we integrate different knowledge systems to search for solutions to the current challenges of our agrifood systems. And finally, we will explore the use of participatory action research (PAR) and agroecology principles, as an essential approach to agroecological research and practice. We will cover international and domestic geographic perspectives, and examine, more in- depth, agroecology and PAR with 3-4 local Vermont farms.


  • Full Course timeline: May 24 – June 18, 2021
  • Throughout the course, we will incorporate livestream events. The final week will include livestream interviews and virtual farm visits with Vermont farmers.
  • During the first three weeks (May 24 – June 11), students will participate in asynchronous discussion work, but the class will also meet for an hour on Mondays to set-up the week and for an hour on Fridays to synthesize the week (times to be determined for these synchronous, live sessions).*
  • During the final week (June 14 – 18), the class will meet each day for two hours (times to be determined for these synchronous, live sessions).*
    • *The times will be communicated before the class begins. Attendance of the live, synchronous sessions are highly recommended and encouraged; however, they will be recorded to view at a later time. 

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe the state and evolution of the field of agroecology and engage in the debate on agroecology’s dimensions as a science, a social movement and a practice
  • Understand and apply a principles-approach to agroecology
  • Understand some of the opportunities and challenges of applying agroecology and PAR in three local Vermont farms
  • Understand the challenges and opportunities of applying agroecology as a transdisciplinary, participatory and action-oriented approach
  • Engage in active peer-to-peer learning with fellow classmates, instructors and guests.

Students taking it as a non-credit course will receive a Certificate of Completion.