The Nordic Agroecology MSc program educates professionals to deal with complex challenges facing agriculture and food systems today and in the future. We strive for understanding multifunctionality, complexity, and uncertainty of performance of agroecosystems. Cognitive processes are seen as steps in an external learning ladder, where we break from the classical concept of always starting at the bottom rung for a one-way climb toward more advanced learning. Our students start in the middle, exploring real-life cases on farms and in food systems, and move up and down the ladder. They step down to train in routine skills and memorize factual and theoretical knowledge needed to deal with the real-life challenges, or step up for visioning and implementing improvements. We envision a corresponding ladder that describes internal, personal reflection on the course activities. This requires emotional involvement, clarification of ethics and personal values, and reflection on experiences. While the external ladder goes upwards toward more complex cognitive processes, the internal ladder goes downwards for a deepening of individual reflection as a practicing, assimilating, connecting, creating, and acting person. The focus on the agroecosystem phenomenon as experienced and linked to theory is balanced by the process of becoming an agroecologist. The dual learning ladder enables students to improve their understanding of agriculture and the wider food system and to practice reflection as basis for personal growth.



agroecology, learning

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