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Participatory Action Research and Transdisciplinary Agroecology

Participatory, transdisciplinary and action research are internationally recognized as pillars of knowledge production for agroecology and food sovereignty. These approaches are also complex and unorthodox, requiring a careful and intentional cultivation of a researcher’s commitments, skill, and competencies.

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Program Snapshot

Fall Start Date

August 26, 2024

How Often

Every fall



Learning Format



15 weeks

Time Commitment

6 - 8 hrs./wk.


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VA Benefit Eligible







Discover the root causes of society’s most complex problems

This course will help students rise to the challenge and examine how the integration of Participatory Action Research (PAR) and transdisciplinary approaches can deepen our collective understanding of complex problems.

Students will build upon foundational courses in agroecological theory and practice, and learn how to apply a transdisciplinary PAR approach to topics in agrifood system studies and action.


  • Fall 2024 Semester: August 26 – December 6
  • Meets online. Days/times TBD.


Is this course for you? 

This course is designed for students who are passionate about researching agroecology, food sovereignty, and addressing complex problems in the agri-food system. It is ideal for individuals interested in participatory and transdisciplinary approaches to research and action. 

Whether you are a graduate student, a researcher, or someone working in agriculture and food systems, this course will provide the knowledge and skills to apply a transdisciplinary Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach to tackle real-world challenges. 

By joining this course, you will understand how various factors, such as gender, race, colonialism, and power dynamics, influence agri-food research processes. Get ready to explore inspiring case studies and learn from agroecological PAR projects to enhance your understanding and contribute to positive change in the field.

Prerequisite: A solid understanding of the practice and principles of agroecology and food sovereignty, acquired through formal study, life experience or both. Please contact the instructor ( to discuss prior to registering.


The course will allow students the opportunity to examine examples of agroecological PAR projects, draw upon lessons learned, and find inspiration.

By the end of the course, students will:

  • Develop an understanding of PAR and transdisciplinary approaches, and how they are distinct from other research and action approaches.
  • Gain a deeper understanding of how knowledge is situated, gendered, racialized, colonial and how it has contributed to social injustice and oppression.
  • Consider how systems, structures, and power dynamics influence research processes.
  • Explore how PAR and transdisciplinary approaches can be applied in agroecology, including through the examination of inspirational case studies.


The Participatory Action Research and Transdisciplinary Agroecology course is taught by Colin Anderson, Ph.D. He is an Associate Research Professor and Research Director of the Agroecology and Livelihoods Collaborative (ALC), a community of practice housed in UVM’s Department of Plant and Soil Science.

Cost & Time

The tuition rate is $750 for all students and does not differ based on a student’s residency. You should anticipate dedicating 6 – 8 hours per week for 15 weeks to complete the course.

Career Outlook

A broad range of career opportunities in a growing field

A Participatory Action Research and Transdisciplinary Agroecology certificate can open up several exciting career paths. Some career tracks include: 

  • Agroecology Consultant
  • Research Scientist
  • Sustainability coordinator
  • Agricultural Policy Analyst
  • Community Development Specialist
  • Agroecology Educator


Identifying the most viable and sustainable ways to improve our agrifood system remains one of the most important challenges of our time. While there are no magic bullets, the field of Agroecology is a demonstrated, holistic approach that addresses the social, ecological and production challenges of current agrifood systems.

The field of agroecology is gaining influence in a diversity of academic, political and advocacy spaces worldwide. In 2014, for the first time in its history, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) held an International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition. Agroecology has also received endorsement from La Via Campesina, and the Journal of Sustainable Agriculture was recently renamed as Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (Gliessman)—demonstrating that groups of peasant farmers, scientists, and international policy makers are each convinced of agroecology’s value and potential. This increased attention has brought with it a call for empirical research about the performance of agroecological practices and a demand for training in agroecological principles. In response to these demands, we have developed a rigorous and practical option that offers a foundation in agroecology, opportunities for research, and a design that makes it accessible to students, international audiences, and mid-career professionals.

Workload for this course, including readings and assignments typically amounts to 6-8 hours per week.

If you are a non-credit student seeking accessibility support, please email and the UVM Student Accessibility Services team will be able to assist. In your email, please include that you do not have a 95 number/NetID.

The program fee for non-credit students is $750.

Learn about options for discounts, grants, loans, scholarships, and more on our tuition and financial aid page.

To reserve your seat, you have the option of paying in full by credit card, or by making a minimum payment of $500 at registration. Note that the balance must be paid two weeks prior to the start of this offering and you will receive email reminders if you have a balance due. We do not offer payment plans for this program.

If you need to cancel your attendance for this course, you must notify us via email at at least three business days prior to the start date of the course to receive a full refund, less a $25 cancellation fee. If a medical condition necessitates cancellation/withdrawal (documentation to be provided), this will be reviewed by our Studies Committee for any type of refund.

Students who successfully complete the requirements for this course will receive a digital badge signifying they have achieved completion.

For those taking the non-credit stand-alone course you may want to go on and further your education.  Career opportunities may be available if your employer has asked you to take this course to enhance your career.

In agricultural development, both nationally and internationally. Examples of international organizations are Groundswell International, Heifer, the Agroecology program of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, etc.

Course content is available via Brightspace online to facilitate information sharing outside the constraints of time and place among the cohort of students. This method of teaching design makes it accessible to students, international audiences, and mid-career professionals.

We hope you find this information helpful. If you can’t find the answer you are looking for, do not hesitate to contact the Agroecology and Livelihoods Collaborative Team at