“The PICA student group is a great group. I am impressed by their motivation and commitment to the concepts of sustainable communities. I see not only positive energy but vitality. I hope participants from developing countries will have the opportunity to participate in this type of refreshing and highly resourceful course in years to come.”
“Now I will try to find a farm on which to teach in my school. The PICA program is excellent to me, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) too…Now I have improved my knowledge about agroecology in a more practical way.”
“I’ve focused on the ecological and agricultural sides of sustainable agriculture. However, through this course, I have a greater understanding of the economical and social sides.”
“In Korea, many farmers, many professors say, ‘spray agricultural chemicals, use fertilizers.’ I can believe my professor’s philosophy now because I have learned from the PICA program.”
“En general la información ha sido muy interestante, tanto para mis estudios como para mi trabajo, sobre todo la informacion de japon e Italia porque son los temas que más se relacionan con mi trabajo. Otra información interesante es lo relacionado a la sostenibilidad, estrategias de mejoramiento del suelo y el rediseño desde la agroecología.”
“PICA is an unforgettable experience for me. Thank you!”
--From evaluations by 2005 shortcourse participants
The International Shortcourse on Agroecology, An Action Education Exchange, was held in Santa Cruz, California July 6-16, 2005. This year’s program, which included 14 participants representing eight countries, was a surprise success. This year we formed new strategic alliances to give the course a special focus on the interactions between human and ecological communities in food systems, from rural producers to urban consumers. Three organizations include Dr. Stephen R. Gliessman’s agroecology research group at the Department of Environmental Studies (UCSC), the Program in Community and Agroecology (PICA), and the Community Agroecology Network (CAN) united to coordinate this course. PICA is a living/learning program providing UCSC students opportunities to integrate cultural and ecological knowledge into our search for sustainability. CAN is an international network committed to sustaining rural livelihoods and environments by integrating participatory action research, education and trade innovations. These new partners greatly enriched the content, perspectives, and special focus of this year’s course.
The course consisted of lectures, demonstrations, and field applications of agroecology. Lecture topics included the ecological basis for sustainable agriculture, sustainable resource management, agroecological structure and function, social dimension in agroecology, advanced concepts and principles of agroecology, and case studies of interdisciplinary agroecological research. Discussions of course concepts were complemented with on-farm experiences in research and production problems. Activities included presentations on specific topics given by invited specialists, group discussions on assigned readings, hands-on lab and field activities, individual and group presentations, field trips to local farms, and the preparation of a case study demonstrating principles of agroecology and sustainability based on agroecosystems in the participant’s home area.