Higher Education Facing Sustainability: The Case of Agronomy
Nowadays, there is a growing conviction (at least in rhetoric) that sustainability is an idea whose time has come; sustainability, being a complex, constructed, and contextual concept, has become a highly controversial theme of our times. On the other, education is part of both the problem and the solution. Additionally, like sustainability per se, environmental education and its successor, education for sustainability, have a range of meanings in theory and thus implications for practice. In the field of higher agricultural education, systemic and critical approaches have, among other, triggered a lively dialogue. Topics include the understanding of agriculture as the interface between people and their environment, integrated curricula (i.e. multi- inter- and trans-disciplinary and/or cross-curricular thematic approaches) the challenge of (sustainable) rural development, the qualifications of (social or systems) agronomists, etc. Such powerful debates have (sometimes radical) consequences for the whole curriculum design, i.e. the nature of (educational) objectives, knowledge, learning methodologies and evaluation. Nevertheless, the traditional/dominant scientific paradigm and productivist approaches to agriculture as related to the largely technical orientation of the curricula have not allowed such argumentation to penetrate the discourse and practice of institutions (including research and extension).
Keywords: Higher Agronomic Studies Transdisciplinarity, Systemic Approaches, Education for Sustainability
Dr. Alex Koutsouris
Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Agricultural University of Athens