Chapter 1: Given that much of the learning about international agroecology would ideally occur outside the classroom, Adventure Learning (AL) and Systems Action Education (SAE) can offer synergistic approaches that synthesize these methodologies into a cohesive student learning experience. This paper reports on the evolution of a series of international agroecology courses offered from 2009 to 2011 that progressively integrated AL and SAE approaches in course design. The courses were taught by a University of Minnesota professor as he bicycled across Africa (2009 and 2010) and South America (2011), exploring various landscapes, crops, climatic regions and food systems with students back home via distance technologies. End-of-course survey responses indicated that students 1) did not find the course any more rigorous than similar level courses, 2) found the course much more unique (p < 0.01), and 3) increased their desire to travel abroad (p < 0.01). Our examination also revealed challenges and opportunities inherent with AL and SAE-merged classrooms. Overall, we found that AL and SAE approaches could be integrated to enhance agroecology education and can make courses inspiring, challenging, and rewarding. The result could have implications for schools that seek to prepare students to work in a global environment.Chapter 2: In response to calls to further synthesize Systems Action Education (SAE) and Adventure Learning (AL), a new action education framework is presented called the Extended Classroom Framework (ECF) for teaching systems of analysis of food systems. ECF integrates SAE and AL with the Circulatory System of Science (CSS) to describe how the experiential classroom interacts with society. In the fall of 2012, the ECF was utilized to design a hybrid course (e.g. half face-to-face, half online) at the undergraduate level that explored four different international agroecoregions through the perspective of on-the-ground collaborators. By utilizing online geographic information systems and an online social network, students digitally explored the agroecosystems as open-ended cases with the guidance of the local collaborator. A pre-test and post-test of the Intercultural Development Inventory and the New Ecological Paradigm survey were given to the students. Students also wrote four reflective journals throughout the semester that were coded and thematically analyzed. 85.5% of students showed significant positive shifts individually in the developed orientation (p < 0.05). Additionally, four out of seven students showed significant decreases in their intercultural orientation gap. Every student ended the course similarly or less culturally disengaged to a primary cultural group, with 85.7% of students in the resolved category, which compares with 57.1% at the beginning of the course. NEP Survey had a poor response rate, and was statistically insignificant. Student reflective journals illustrated growth in considering agroecosystems contextually and as coupled human-environmental systems. These results show that the ECF offers a viable framework for developing student capacities to engage wicked problems.
University of Minnesota Master of Science thesis. June 2014. Major: Applied Plant Sciences. Advisor: Dr. Paul M. Porter. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 83 pages, appendix p. 83.
Runck, Bryan Christopher.
Future learning landscapes: international agroecology education and outreach through online social networks and geographic information systems.
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