Sustainable Agricultural Education: An Experiential Approach to Shifting Consciousness and Practices
This thesis explores the social and ecological impacts of the industrial agricultural paradigm, as well as the historical and political forces that drive it. It recognizes that human communities are experiencing a breakdown of agricultural systems, and theorizes that sustainable agricultural systems will only come about when humans begin to shift in consciousness from an anthropocentric worldview to an eco-centric worldview. A transformation towards sustainability will require educational initiatives that support and promote ecological literacy. Additionally, the thesis examines the interrelationships between sustainable farming methods, particularly natural farming and permaculture, and experiential education. The research project involved developing curriculum and facilitating two Natural Farming and Permaculture Workshops at Solitude Farm, located in Auroville, India. The purpose of the research was 1) to determine what kinds of shifts in consciousness take place as a result of participating in Natural Farming and Permaculture Workshops, and 2) to develop a curriculum guide for facilitators, with the intention to disseminate it to small farmers hoping to implement similar educational programs. The researcher employed a combination of case study and ethnographic methodology to understand participants' experience. In the conclusion the researcher discusses how the workshops promote ecological literacy.
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