Agroecology Online


 3 credits


NOTE If you do not have all of the prerequisites for this class, please request permission to enroll from the instructor.

Lisa DePiano, M.R.P.  Email:
Online Course: asynchronous
Office hours on zoom by appointment

Moodle Page and Textbook:
Our Moodle site is the central hub for this course. On Moodle, you will find items such as the syllabus, announcements, course materials, presentations, assignments, grades and other relevant course information. There is also an e-mail function which I will use to
send updates and reminders during the course. Please make sure to check Moodle on a regular basis. There is no required textbook. Copies of all readings will be on Moodle as a PDF.

Course Overview:
Introduction to Agroecology is a 3-credit online course that gives students an understanding of Agroecology as an applied practice, social movement and a method to mitigate climate change and bring stability and justice into the food system. Today’s food and agricultural systems have succeeded in supplying large volumes of food to global markets. However, high input, resource-intensive agricultural systems have
caused water scarcities, biodiversity loss, massive deforestation, soil depletion and high levels of greenhouse gas. Despite advances in agricultural technology, hunger and poverty persist as critical global challenges. Agroecology offers a unique approach to meeting significant increases in food needs of he future while ensuring no one is left behind. It is a holistic interdisciplinary science that applies ecological and social concepts and principles to the design and management of food and agricultural systems. It optimizes the interactions between
plants, animals, humans and the environment while taking into consideration the social aspects that need to be addressed for a sustainable and equitable food system.
Agroecology is not new. It is based on traditional ecological knowledge and can be identified in scientific literature since the 1920s. It can also be found in family farmers’ practices, in grassroots social movements for sustainability and the public policies of various countries around the world.

Learning Outcomes:
Upon completion of the course student will
● Identify problems of conventional agriculture and how we got here
● Understand the depth of Agroecology its history and principles
● Become familiar with Participatory Action Research
● See examples of agroecology from around the world
● Gain an understanding of techniques to mitigate climate change and create regenerative ecosystems
● Recognize the importance of grassroots social movements fight for equity and self determination

Participation and Discussion: 30 points
Quizzes (4): 20 points
Mid Term- Agroecology Case Study: 25 points
Final Cumulative Exam: 25 points

Learning shouldn’t be done in isolation; it is a social activity. Both attendance and participation in online activities are essential for your success in the blended learning experience of this course.
Being active and engaged in class will provide you with the deepest learning experience. To get the most out of this class, you will need to actively engage with the materials and resources provided in Moodle. Strong participation means completing learning activities, being actively involved in online discussions, asking interesting questions, and demonstrating that you read and have thought about the material. Participation translates through showing curiosity about
others’ perspectives on an issue, demonstrating respect for others opinions and ideas through acknowledging their view and asking for clarification when you aren’t sure.
Discussion and active participation are 25% of your grade.


There will be online discussion prompts each week that will allow you to engage with your classmates. For full credit please post at least a 500 word (1 page) response to each prompt and respond to at least 2 other students’ posts with a 250 word response.
Both attendance and participation in online activities are essential for your success in the blended learning experience of this course.  Discussion and active participation are worth 30% of your grade.

There will be four quizzes during the course which are worth 5 points each and available on Moodle. The quizzes are multiple choice and will cover course readings, discussions, readings and content covered in class. Once you start the quiz you will have 30 minutes to complete it. Once you have submitted the quiz you cannot go back and change any of your answers. Quiz extension will only be allowed in cases of extreme illness or family emergency. Communication with the instructor must happen prior to the due date of the quiz. Quizzes are 20% of your grade.

Mid Term: Agroecology Case Study
Each student will submit an Agroecology Case study from a site of their choosing from around the world. The mid-term is 25% of your grade.

Final Exam:
The final exam will evaluate the students comprehension of course content, discussion and readings. The final exam is 25% of your grade.

Grades for the course will be based upon the student’s ability to achieve the learning objectives and assignments mentioned above. In addition attendance is mandatory and will be a significant portion of the overall grade.

Course Calendar * This calendar is subject to change

Week 1: Introductions & Course Overview
What are the problems with conventional agriculture and how did we get here. Agroecology history, definitions, and principles
Indigenous Influence and contributions

Week 2: Agroecology, regenerative agriculture and
permaculture. Techniques for building healthy soil, water, vegetation & biodiversity. Using Agroecology to mitigate Climate Change

Week 3: Agroecology in Practice:
Case Studies from around the globe
Participatory Action
Research overview and methodology

Week 4: Agroecology Techniques
Alley Cropping, Silvopasture, home gardens, aquaculture &
urban growing

Week 5: Agroecology Social Movements: La Via Campesina, Zapatistas Land Access: Land trusts and Land back
Climate Justice

Week 6: Agroecology today
The future of food systems
Course review


This class is part of the Sustainable Food and Farming Online Certificate Program and will count toward the Associate of Science degree as well as the Online B.S. degree

To begin planning for the future, see….
Annual Class Schedule

NOTE: The UMass Sustainable Food and Farming Certificate has been declared eligible for Veterans Educational Benefits. For instructions see: Veterans Benefits.

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