This article questions the purpose of agricultural education: what qualities should graduates have? It also advocates greater client orientation and project -based learning. The emerging farming systems perspective and issues of sustainability and concern with human goals are discussed. It is suggested that debate on the goals and processes of agricultural education and agriculture itself should give rise to changes in university teaching and learning. The article is based on experience of, and directed towards, agriculture and agricultural education in Australia.
This volume of the Gatekeeper series from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) looks at the economic education efforts of Highlander Research and Education Centre (Tennessee, USA) in Appalachia and its role in promoting community development. It gives a background to social problems in Appalachia and describes the Highlander project. The project concentrated on three rural communities (Dungannon, Virginia; Jelico, Tennessee; and Ivanhoe, Virginia) and was oriented towards helping communities gain knowledge necessary for local development. Community groups were offered technical and educational support for grassroots economic leadership development through a participatory process where the community could assess their own situation, and define and implement strategies for themselves. Part of the participatory methodology were oral history, community surveys, community mapping and drawings, decision-maker interviews, videos and readings, brainstorming and feasibility studies, and cultural components. Finally the outcomes of the project are examined.
Soft-Systems Methodology for Action Research: The Role of a College Farm in an Agricultural Education Institution
This paper concerns the use of action research within a research institute both to meet immediate objectives of the staff and to learn about the research methodology. In a situation characterised by decreased funding and curriculum reform based on the concepts of experiential learning, the Checkland soft-systems methodology was adopted to manage a change in the role of university farms using a consensus approach. Two outcomes of the research process were (i) improvement in financial returns in the farms, a better working climate and greater use of farms in experiential education, and (ii) the researchers learned about the methodology and how it is able to accommodate purposeful behaviour and issues of power. Following description of the initial situation, the paper outlines the steps involved in applying the soft-systems methodology to that situation.
This is a collection of three papers on systems agriculture, written in the early -mid 1980s. The first outlines some key concepts, methodologies and practices used within the systems approach to agriculture. It emphasises experiential learning, contrasting its application within the conventional, reductionist methodology and the systems methodology. Discussing varieties of systems approaches to problem solving, the author discusses in detail the distinctive approach used by Hawkesbury Agricultural College. The second paper discusses Hawkesbury's curricula initiatives, contrasting it with other learning and research paradigms used in Australia. These emphasise experiential learning to address complex problem solving. The final paper reflects on action research concerning the development of the School of Agriculture at Hawkesbury. Viewing the school as a purposeful sub-system within a complex macro-system of agriculture, the design of appropriate activities and structures in the School are discussed.