Pablo Tittonell about the FEI: “The idea of the Farm Experience Internship is not that they [students] become farmers. No, it’s to have a different dimension in a way that they learn about agriculture and agroecology. For instance, a classical example is how a crop, or a plant, responds to the additional nutrients. So you can go to your lectures in the university and first of all the two axis are always there. On those axis you have for instance how much Nitrogen there [x-axis] and how much the plant grows [y axis] and there is a nice curve. Well try to find that somewhere in reality. It is completely different. First, because there’s not only two axis, there are many many more. And second, because there’s so much variabilities, so much heterogeneities, so many other things going on, and that gives you a multidimensional perspective of how things are. Still, when you go back to the classroom, and you sit there, we’re going to ask you about this curve and you are going to have to know this. But you will know this, together with what you have seen in the field. So you can judge that knowledge, those models of reality, with a different eye once you’ve seen things in the field.” – Pablo Tittonell is a former professor Farming Systems Ecology, Wageningen University and current coordinator of the National Program on Natural Resources, Environment and Eco-Regions of the National and Agricultural Research Institute of Argentina and – most of a all – a big fan of the FEI! (see also his TED talk Feeding the world with Agroecology)
Irene Cardoso about the FEI: “What I like about it, is the way that the students can be connected to the reality, but in a way that they feel free to become part of this reality. So they don’t go there as a technician, they don’t need to give an advise – they just go there to live with the farmers” – Irene Cardoso is professor of Soil Science at the Federal University of Vicosa, Brazil and vice-president of the Brazilian Agroecology Association.
Article “Estágio Interdisciplinar de Vivência: Connecting social movements, family farmers and the university” – Written by Heitor Mancini Teixeira , Isabela Fabiana da Silva Ladeira , Lucas Reis Bittencourt.
Family farmers play a very important role in Brazil, and not only in terms of food production. Yet, in spite of their enormous contribution, the knowledge that is developed and shared in educational institutes is rarely connected to their traditional knowledge. Most higher education institutions are highly theoretical and often oriented towards large-scale industrial agriculture, thereby creating gaps between their research and outreach activities and the needs of family farmers. An initiative started by started by a group of university students is successfully changing this situation.(Published in Farming Matters, 2013. Read the article here or download the full magazine for free here).
ABSTRACT: In this essay we elaborate about how the overall empowerment goal of the course Agricultural and Rural Innovation Process, RSO-51303 (also known as the Farm Experience Internship – FEI), is developed. For this, we first briefly present the course’s history, its structure and main characteristics as well as how the course is linked to a broader agro ecological movement. Then, following San Pedro (2006) and Vene Klasen (2002), the concept of empowerment is developed from four distinct definitions of power (“power over”, “power to”, “power with” and “power within”). Next, we apply this framework to the collected data, including information from content analysis on the previous FEI’s documents and evaluations and semi-structured interviews with previous FEI’s participants. Also, we followed through participant observation the formerly group that is planning and developing this year’s course (2016). Finally, we finish with some suggestions of what would be the core aspects of the course, that are intrinsically allowing/developing empowerment and therefore should be preserved as fundamental aspects of this socio/technical venture in a possible transition of the course to a mandatory course of Organic Agriculture’s Master program. Download the full report here..