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The Ecology of Food Systems:

7th National Conference on Sustainable Agriculture Education,

July 29-31, 2016,

University of California at Santa Cruz


Conference Format and Schedule


When it comes to food system education that is experiential, interdisciplinary, and systems-based, the SAEA conference strives to walk the talk. We, the participants, will make the conference, with a schedule and format explicitly designed to support people learning as both individuals and groups. When we meet and work together, we form an education-focused “community of practice” that helps us learn not only more about teaching food systems, but about the world in which we live and work, ourselves and each other. The SAEA champions innovative educational approaches for sustainable agriculture through the development, application, and research of teaching and learning practices. The SAEA conference is not focused on sustainable agriculture or food systems as topical areas, in and of themselves. The goal of the conference is to connect educators, teachers, students, apprentices, staff, and administrators who focus on teaching and learning at the adult level.

SAEA believes that how we teach and learn is as important as what we teach and learn, and that this is especially true when approaching the challenges and opportunities we face in creating a more just and sustainable food system.

The format of the conference is designed with specific learning outcomes in mind, and utilizes multiple approaches to learning styles and competency development.

Day 1:Reflection and Setting the Tone.” Day 1 of the conference is designed to engage participants in reflection on their personal and professional work in education and prepare conference goers for active engagement in the multiday event. Learning activities for Day 1 are highly interactive and dialogically-based, where participants propose and vet agenda items for the conference. We use facilitated real-time, participant directed activities, such as World Café and Open Space Technology to engage topics and issues in sustainable food system education that are of immediate priority to participants.

“Decolonizing Foodways Symposium”– The Symposium aims to take our engagement with food beyond procurement to delve into the cultural, political, and economic history of food, understanding food itself as a site for colonial/decolonial struggles. For full event description, click here”

Day 2:Getting Technical.” Day 2 utilizes a range of pre-prepared presentations, followed by field trips to regional instructional facilities and successful case studies of post-secondary programming addressing the theme of “The Ecology of the Food System.”

Day 3: “Skills-Based Workshops and Group Project Work.” Day 3 emphasizes taking what we have learned to the next level by organizing and getting into action with our colleagues! Workshops will be oriented towards practical knowledge and skill development with the goal of operationalizing key conference themes into our programming. Please read descriptions of workshops, below. Additionally, conference facilities are made available to support project teams that can use the space and time together to hold multi-partner project meetings, develop and write project proposals, journal articles, plan campaigns, etc.

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