Food production ranks among the most environmentally significant of human activities. Agriculture is practiced in every corner of the planet in all but the most extreme of ecosystems. Life-sustaining agricultural practices are, however, often linked to habitat and biodiversity loss, deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions, and increasingly to the extensive use of chemicals and nonpoint source pollution. Producing food uses twice as much water as all other human activities combined. In this context, and given new challenges posed by climate change, rapid urbanization, and shifts in the balance of the global economy, how can we hope to sustain or even increase food production to meet the needs of nine billion people while ensuring the ecological health of our agricultural systems and the green infrastructure our communities rely on?
This course, based in Malawi, will examine different models of food production by introducing you to the exciting work around design thinking and design as a practice among regenerative movements and thought leaders. You will have direct, hands-on engagement with permaculture practitioners, agroecologists, smallholder farmers, and leading faculty in natural resources management and agroforestry while examining how regenerative design thinking and practices are applied to ecological systems as well as social systems, development, and food production.
This course will include an orientation; introductory activities; 10 faculty-led class sessions; guest lectures that will provide the theoretical frameworks for the course and historical background to the field sites and partner organizations you will visit; readings and assignments; and debrief sessions to synthesize all this material with faculty, local team, and peers.
The course is based at the Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology in Lilongwe and includes an excursion to an agroecology demonstration farm in Mchinji, a 10-day, rural-stay living with a community of smallholder farmers in the Ntcheu District, as well classwork held at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
- Explore the diversity of Malawian agricultural production models from large-scale industrial tobacco production to agroecological food forests.
- Witness and learn agroecological farming practices amid increasing economic and climate uncertainty.
- Practice regenerative farming on a diversified farm in central Malawi.
- Investigate the history and legacy of colonization on agricultural production.