Agroecology and Participatory Action Research (PAR): Critical Lessons and Reflections for the Future

Monday, February 06, 2017

This presentation critically examines the integration of Agroecology and Participatory Action Research (PAR), as a promising approach to address current agrifood system issues. I will discuss how our efforts to integrate PAR and Agroecology have evolved in the Agroecology and Rural Livelihoods Group (ARLG) at the University of Vermont, and the challenges and opportunities that we have faced. This introduction will then be used to engage the audience in a reflection about: 1) what can we learn from these experiences? 2) how do these lessons relate to the experience of the people in the audience? and 3) how can we use this knowledge to enhance the integration of PAR and agroecology for current and future endeavors?

V. Ernesto Méndez is Associate Professor of Agroecology and Environmental Studies, at the University of Vermont’s Environmental Program and Department of Plant and Soil Science, where he leads the Agroecology and Rural Livelihoods Group (ARLG). His research and teaching focus on agroecology, agrifood systems, participatory action research (PAR), and transdisciplinary research approaches. At UVM he is also an active member of the Food Systems Initiative and a fellow of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics. He has more than fifteen years of experience doing research and development work with smallholder farmers in Latin America, with an emphasis on coffee farmer cooperatives. He is also working with a team of faculty and extensionists to address agricultural resilience in the face of climate change in Vermont and the Northeast. He has authored or co-authored over 40 peer-reviewed articles and chapters, as well as three edited books. Most recently, he was the lead editor of the book Agroecology: a transdisciplinary, participatory and action-oriented approach, published in 2016, which explores how the field of agroecology can contribute to attain more ecologically sound and socially just agrifood systems. Ernesto was born and raised in El Salvador and has worked extensively in Latin America, California and Spain.

This talk is part of the Diversified Farming Systems Roundtable.