Future practitioners of sustainable agriculture and agroecology must have the capacity to address the wicked problems in the food system to make progress toward sustainability. Undergraduate sustainable agriculture students from a variety of backgrounds may struggle with the question, is the challenging and complex work of addressing wicked problems of agroecology for me? Our case study investigated sociocultural tensions associated with identity encountered when wicked problems teaching units were integrated into the Advanced Practices of Sustainable Agriculture course at a large, Midwestern Land Grant University. The research and course employed a four-part framework that focused on (1) attending to individual needs and identities, (2) facilitating practice-based and community-based learning, (3) engaging in problems situated in regional contexts, and (4) supporting awareness of local and global political and ecological issues. Researchers used a community of practice theoretical lens, and focused on the sociocultural tensions that may have impacted individual and community identity formation. Two wicked problems teaching units are described by drawing upon documentation and audio recordings from planning meetings, course sessions, student and instructor interviews, and course artifacts. Vignettes were constructed to situate four interrelated types of sociocultural tensions encountered by instructors and students. These tensions reflected forces at the individual, community, local, and global levels which interact to influence learners’ capacity to become full participants in sustainable agriculture. The study fills a gap related to affective dimensions of learning like identity in agroecology education. Dilemmas and implications related to identity, pedagogy, and epistemology are discussed.
Agriculture and Human Values – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 12, 2016
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