100 Years of Agroecology: Pushing the Frontiers of Ecology

Thursday, August 13, 2015: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
307, Baltimore Convention Center
Ivette Perfecto, University of Michigan
M. Jahi Chappell, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy; Esteli Jimenez-Soto, U. of California, Santa Cruz; Rachel O'Malley, San Jose State University; and Mari-Vaughn V. Johnson, USDA-NRCS
Ivette Perfecto, University of Michigan
More than a century ago Franklin Hiram King wrote Farmers for Forty Centuries, documenting sustainable practices of farmers in Asia and relating them to his own scientific research in soil sciences. At the same time, George Washington Carver was conducting experiments on crop rotations and urging cotton farmers in the southeastern United States to plant legumes to restore nitrogen in their soils. Soon after that, Sir Albert Howard studied sustainable farming practices from farmers in India and upon his return to England went on to document and promote organic agriculture. In the introduction to the inaugural issue of Ecology (1920), Barrington Moore made the connection between agriculture and ecology clear when he stated, “All agricultural research, except breeding, is ecology.” In spite of Moore’s prescient observation, four decades passed before serious discussion of applied ecology more broadly came front and center in a symposium, published in Ecology. The subjects were management of forests, rangeland, wildlife, wild land soils, and public health. Curiously, agricultural topics were excluded. It was not until 1963, when Fosberg’s review of Silent Spring was published in Ecology, that ecologists began linking the science of ecology to agriculture and food systems. Since 2000, when the Agroecology Section was established in ESA, agroecology has continued to grain traction within ESA, inspiring development of multiple symposia, organized oral sessions, talks and posters at every subsequent annual meeting. In the last 50 years agroecology has broadened from a science to a practice and a movement. The science of agroecology benefited from the pioneering work of Dick Root, William Murdoch and others in the 1970s and 1980s, using agroecosystems as model systems to study ecological processes and functions. The 1990s and 2000s saw an emerging concern with biodiversity declines and the science of agroecology contributed to a better understanding of the role of agriculture in the conservation of biodiversity as well as the role of biodiversity in providing ecosystem services to agriculture. Since then, the interdisciplinary nature of agroecology has taken central stage and contributes in a major way to the discourse about implementing the kind of resilient systems that would be necessary under most climate change scenarios. As a movement, agroecology has had its greatest accomplishments in Latin America, where millions of small-scale farmers incorporate agroecological practices as a way to sustain their systems and improve their livelihoods.
8:00 AM
 A historical account of agroecology as a science, a practice, and a movement
Stephen Gliessman, University of California, Santa Cruz
9:00 AM
9:30 AM
9:40 AM
 Agroecology: Integrating ecology into practice and social change
John H. Vandermeer, University of Michigan
10:10 AM
 Agroecology and resilience in socioecological systems
Jennifer Blesh, University of Michigan; Laurie E. Drinkwater, Cornell University; Steven A. Wolf, Cornell University; Hannah Wittman, University of British Columbia
10:40 AM
 Towards an agroecological revolution in Latin America?
Inge Armbrecht, Universidad del Valle; Clara Nicholls, University of California, Berkeley
See more of: Symposia