Key people at NMBU
[Visiting Professor of Agroecology, NMBU, and Professor of Agronomy and Horticulture, UNL]
Chuck Francis first came to agroecology from an experience during his Master’s in the Philippines, where a tropical cloudburst wiped out his conventionally-planted experiment, while nearby traditional fields survived the storm. He researched maize/bean intercropping in Colombia, earned his PhD in plant breeding from Cornell, and published the book Multiple Cropping Systems in 1986. Chuck met agroecologists at NMBU and SLU and become a pivotal part of the team forming agroecology education both here and in Iowa. He and Barb Francis [see photo] are like family to the students, they care deeply and it shows through everything they do. Barb is a Montessori pre-school Spanish teacher and in Norway works as a volunteer with refugees.
A note from Chuck:
“Our intensive courses have revealed how creative students can become when given minimal guidelines but clear goals … and the safe space to build team solutions to wicked problems. This handbook should help explain to new students what the courses are about, in the words of people who have immersed in the NMBU experience.
Welcome to a stimulating, at times frustrating, but ultimately rewarding academic departure from the norm in this new learning landscape … one we hope you will build on, help us to enlarge, and never forget as we all apply the methods in new contexts. Barb Francis and I host potluck dinners and waffle breakfasts with students and others to help build our learning community. We look forward to meeting you.”
[Researcher, MSc Agroecology 2018]
I’m Åsmund Steiro, a researcher on the Nextfood project and recently graduated agroecologist. I grew up in the city of Trondheim, removed from any connection to where and how our food is produced. Beginning my academic endeavours within the field of biology, I soon learned more than enough about the problematic state of our ecosystems to realise that I was not content with being a bystander. Not being the type to chain myself to an excavator, I was happy to find that I could combine my engagement for the sustainability of our future food systems with my academic tendencies here at the agroecology group. Through action learning, I acquired the competences to not only understand but also engage with the systems we are aiming to change. And now, I’m happy to continue practicing these competencies by participating in the action learning and research activities conducted at the program.
Oh, and when I’m not busy with the abovementioned big words and fancy terms I’m just a friendly guy living in Oslo. Don’t hesitate to knock on my door or approach me on the train for a chat about anything from the state of our ecosystems to optimised ski waxing techniques.
Lutgart is the newest addition to the Agroecology Group, joining PAE302 for the first time in Autumn 2019. Her background is in bio-engineering and development studies, and her research and teaching focuses on social interactions in natural resource management. Her PhD is from University of Leuven, Belgium. Most recently she was a postdoctoral researcher at Noragric, NMBU, working on climate change adaptation and humanitarian aid, on the project Courting Catastrophe? Humanitarian policy and practice in a changing climate. She has more than ten years of research-experience in North Ethiopia, where she also voluntarily did action research on beekeeping with local farmers in the Ma’ar project.
Note from Lutgart:
“I look forward to meeting you all and to an inspiring learning journey together!!!”
[Researcher, MSc Agroecology 2019]
Vebjørn Stafseng is a recently graduated agroecologist currently working as a researcher on the research projects Cultivating Public Spaces and ADAPT. He is also involved in the newly established National Centre for Urban Agriculture at NMBU. His interest in food and agriculture has always been there, but truly came through with a wwoofing experience on organic farms in France. Since then he has been working as a craft baker and with urban agriculture in practice in Oslo and been active with food related issues in the environment and development NGO Spire. He is very fascinated by the concept of transformative learning, which he can relate to through the experience of doing the agroecology programme, and he wrote his thesis on transformative learning in urban agriculture.