When you combine the topical focus of agroecology and the conceptual and methodological orientation of political ecology, what you get is political agroecology. This is a new term and an emerging field, so it’s not always helpful as a label for what I do – but it is the label that fits best. My research program has been organized around working with the farmers and grassroots network(s) of permaculture to support the transition to sustainable and multifunctional agriculture. As a political agroecologist, I’m interested in both the quantifiable performance of farming systems, as well as the ways in which our ideas about agriculture (and sustainability in general) translate into policy that creates winners and losers for different constituencies. The research focus of my dissertation was the permaculture movement, and it’s present and potential contributions to agroecological transition. I’m also interested in the political ecology of diversified farming systems more broadly – especially as it intersects with popular movement for social justice.
I completed my PhD in Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015. Prior to that I earned an MS in Agroecology at the University of Vermont, where I conducted participatory research with Vermont farmers on strategies for integrating perennial polyculture systems into working farm landscapes.