In the face of rapidly unfolding social and environmental crises, the problems of our time are messier and more complex than ever before. Therefore, as agroecologists we must be prepared to cope with our rapidly changing future. Today’s “wicked problems” (i.e. threats to biodiversity, loss of indigenous knowledge systems, soil degradation, and corporate concentration of the food sector) cannot be solved through the work of a single discipline, but are located at the conjuncture of social, economic, political, cultural and environmental crises. As a result, we see that our learning context must also change. Wicked Problems require different frameworks, tools and an adaptive mindset when we deal with the real problems out there.
The agroecology program gives us a specially designed toolset as a learning outcome, a thoughtful approach to larger systems awareness and problem solving to avoid some of the mistakes made in our agrifood history. The Green Revolution brought about our current luxurious lifestyle, but with climate change, globalisation and the commodification of food, our knowledge about agriculture is changing fast. We need adaptive and competent change agents to facilitate a transition toward sustainable agrifood systems. In order to take part in this transition, we must learn how we learn and respond to these complexities.
This calls for us to become autonomous learners and explore how knowledge is created, whether during or at the end of a process, through singular or collaborative efforts, focusing into a discipline or zooming out to see the bigger picture. There are several themes that will stay in your memory long after this semester is over. In order to establish a comprehensive understanding of the semester, we will explore some of these themes in depth.