Department of Community and Environmental Sociology
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Phone: (608) 265-9930
3:01 – Total Time
0:17 – What is agroecology
0:38 – How agroecology benefits students
0:54 – What students do with agroecology degrees
1:41 – What the students study
2:50 – Lead out
Agroecology. We’re visiting today with Michael Bell, Director of the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and Co-chair of the Agroecology Masters Program, University of WI, in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, WI and I’m Sevie Kenyon.
Sevie Kenyon: Michael, what is Agroecology?
Michael Bell: I like to think of Agroecology as the study of agriculture in the biggest way possible. Agriculture as everything. It’s the human part, it’s the biological part and it’s even the cultural part all coming together.
Sevie Kenyon: How does the Agroecology Program benefit the student?
Michael Bell: The student comes out of the program with a broad, integrated base in what agriculture is. Also, something distinctive that they can bring to agriculture.
Sevie Kenyon: Do any of these students become farmers?
Michael Bell: Yes! Many of our students actually do become farmers. So, many of our students are interested in this as a beginning farmer program and some of them work for industry. They go out in many, many different places and what we find is that employers are often thirsting for a student like this. They want a student that has some technical skills, which our students do have, but at the same time they want a student who’s able to put that skill into a broader context to make for their organization or their company or whatever it might be to make it more nimble, more able to dance with the changes and maybe sometimes to lead those changes.
Sevie Kenyon: Michael, can you describe for us activities for Agroecology?
Michael Bell: Sure. So we have one course that’s called The Farm as a Socioenviromental Endeavor. You go onto a farm and you think about a farm from the farm’s point of view and the farm looking out at the world and the world’s many expectations for the farm. And then we have another class, and that one’s really what we call our “outside-in” class, it’s about the world with its many expectations looking back in on the farm. We also try to develop the student’s capacity for other forms of science communication. So for example, in one of our courses the students write a short story… farm far away short story… a farm that they’ve never been to… that they imagine… but it needs to be at the same time grounded in science, in fact. Bringing the imaginative communicative power of storytelling together so we can communicate our facts better. The other thing we do is the students write and perform plays that are another way to bring science out to people and then they become part of the conversation too.
Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting today with Michael Bell, Director of the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, University of WI, in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, WI and I’m Sevie Kenyon.