Educational innovations in agroecology: Learning-centred open-ended cases

Charles Francis, Anna Marie Nicolaysen, Suzanne Morse, Geir Lieblein, Tor Arvid Breland


Open-ended cases present students with learning situations where a particular dilemma on the farm or in the community food system has not been resolved. With minimal but focused prior preparations, students interview farmers and food system stakeholders to build context for the case and to discover the philosophy, goals, and major challenges faced by clients. Student teams build a rich picture of the current reality, including major elements, interactions, and driving forces both internal and external. Instead of reaching prescriptive recommendations, students develop multiple potential future scenarios that could be used by stakeholders to resolve the situation, and evaluate a priori the most likely outcomes of following each scenario. These are presented back to the farmer or community, and a visioning session is held to bring all the players to the table and decide on the most constructive future course of action. We have found this method to be highly stimulating to students, as they work in a team with instructors and clients to plan a desirable future. Students report that the learning experience has been valuable to their subsequent thesis research as well as contributing to their effectiveness on jobs after the university.

Keywords: agroecology, systems learning, action learning, education for responsible action, organic farming systems

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2016 Acta Fytotechnica et Zootechnica

© Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra, Faculty of Agrobiology and Food Resources