Abstract/Details

Student farmer-to-student farmer: Transformational learning in sustainable agriculture and food systems education


2009 2009

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Abstract (summary)

Student farms, developed largely out of student efforts, have served as centers for the development of experiential learning and sustainable agriculture and food systems (SAFS) education on land grant college campuses long before most formal SAFS programs were proposed. This research compares the development histories of three land grant colleges (northeast, mid-west, and western U.S.), examines students' perspectives on effective learning approaches, and reports on a Participatory Action Research (PAR) intervention at the northeastern college.

The three student farm cases faced challenges and opportunities to expand facilities and programs, and maintain significant participation by students in student farm management and governance. In all cases, tensions between shared governance and professionalized continuity threatened experiential learning (EL). In all but one case, these tensions resulted in the replacement of students' deliberations on the purpose, premise, and structure of their education with technical exercises, effectively marginalizing students' agency and consequently narrowing the scope of critically reflective EL.

Students' learning preference for integrating classroom and fieldwork showed strong resemblance to contemporary EL that argues that knowledge is constructed when learners resolve tensions between abstract conceptualization and concrete experience, reflective observation and experimentation. Students appreciated having instructors act as facilitators and highly valued opportunities for peer-to-peer co-construction of knowledge. Students actively sought out student farms to gain both production and community development competencies in organic, small-scale agriculture, competencies often unsupported by their formal programs. Student farm activities empowered students by affording them the autonomy to self-direct and align hands-on technical learning with their social and environmental values and sense of life-purpose.

At the request of students, faculty, and staff at the northeastern college, additional research using PAR was performed to help stakeholders deliberate upon a governance structure. Cooperation and trust was built across stakeholder groups who had otherwise struggled with conflict, and a shared governance structure was successfully enacted. Experiential learning pedagogies based on critical reflection and collective decision-making are valuable components of student farms and SAFS education at land grant universities (LGUs). Scholars and staff using student farms for SAFS education would benefit from developing EL and PAR competencies.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Horticulture;
Environmental Studies;
Agricultural education;
Sustainability
Classification
0471: Horticulture
0477: Environmental Studies
0517: Agricultural education
0640: Sustainability
Identifier / keyword
Health and environmental sciences; Social sciences; Education; Biological sciences; Agriculture; Education; Experiential learning; Food systems; Student farm; Sustainability; Sustainable agriculture; Transformational learning
Title
Student farmer-to-student farmer: Transformational learning in sustainable agriculture and food systems education
Author
Parr, Damian Michael
Number of pages
137
Publication year
2009
Degree date
2009
School code
0029
Source
DAI-A 70/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
ISBN
9781109504309
University/institution
University of California, Davis
University location
United States -- California
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
3385713
ProQuest document ID
304849591
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/304849591
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