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African roads to sustainable agroecology summer school – hot topics and targeted solutions

Transdisciplinary learning Ten principles of agroecology Food-environment nexus Diversity Co-creation
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Africa is facing a range of interrelated environmental and societal challenges with respect to climate change, biodiversity conservation and food security. Integrated transformative solutions are needed for a sustainable future. Yet neither students nor practitioners are explicitly trained for this, thus limiting successful transformation. We propose to address this gap by launching an international Summer School that takes transdisciplinary-learning methods as its core.
The international community has a long history of mono-disciplinary (silos) and technology-oriented problem solving in sub-Saharan Africa. However, many of the problems are strongly interrelated and require an integrated evaluation of the question ‘what should be?’ within the local socio-economic and policy context to be successfully addressed. Agroecology as an inclusive bottom-up approach spanning the natural and social sciences has the potential to identify the transformative changes needed for sustainable food systems. Yet, most university and professional education was and still is monodisciplinary in focus and taking a holistic agroecology perspective presents a key challenge for many initiatives and projects.
We propose to launch the international ‘African roads to Sustainable Agroecology Summer School’ (AfriSASS) to address this challenge. Africa consists of a massive network of infinitely many tiny paths that collectively go everywhere, but in any one place only the locals know where each path leads. This ‘African roads’ concept forms a good analogy for the agroecological approach needed for sustainable agriculture on the continent. The scientific consensus has highlighted that a diversity of locally and temporally tailor-made technical as well as social innovations are required for transformative sustainable change.
Our goal is that AfriSASS participants and lecturers attain a transdisciplinary-learning approach that they can apply to achieve sustainable and resilient food systems within Africa. AfriSASS will focus on the 10 elements of agroecology identified by the FAO as its content and will use transdisciplinary learning (TL) as its core method. This method is characterized by the framing, analysing and solving of societal problems together with non-academic actors, i.e. co-learning. Both participants and lecturers will be selected to foster cross-disciplinary learning and will gain hands-on TL experience during fieldwork in the Great Rift Valley agroecological zones of Kenya. The intensive Summer School will equip the next generation of leaders with the mental tools needed to drive transformative change towards sustainable and resilient African food systems, by tapping into their mental maps of African roads and fostering a transdisciplinary method of problem solving.


Our goal is that AfriSASS participants (students, practionners, lecturers):
• Enhance their knowledge of opportunities and challenges in agroecology within sub-Saharan Africa, particularly with respect to transformative change, and
• Can apply a transdisciplinary approach to societal problem solving, particularly in the context of agriculture
Specific objectives:
• Transfer knowledge with respect to the FAO’s 10 principles of agroecology, and their interactions
• Teach the transdisciplinary learning approach to societal problem solving
• Enhance participants’ cognitive (knowledge), affective (attitudes), and psychomotor (skills) domains
• Evaluate the quality of the school with participants and lecturers.
• Define options for continuation of the school in future years.

Project Number : 2002-013

Year : 2020

Type of funding : AAP ICL

Project type : AAP

Research units in the network : AIDA

Start date :
01 Sep 2021

End date :
31 Aug 2022

Flagship project :

Project leader :
Marc Corbeels

Project leader's institution :

Project leader's RU :

Budget allocated :
20000 €

Total budget allocated ( including co-financing) :
47000 €

Funding :