Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 611–626 | Cite as

Food sovereignty education across the Americas: multiple origins, converging movements

  • David MeekEmail author
  • Katharine Bradley
  • Bruce Ferguson
  • Lesli Hoey
  • Helda Morales
  • Peter Rosset
  • Rebecca Tarlau
Symposium/Special Issue


Social movements are using education to generate critical consciousness regarding the social and environmental unsustainability of the current food system, and advocate for agroecological production. In this article, we explore results from a cross-case analysis of six social movements that are using education as a strategy to advance food sovereignty. We conducted participatory research with diverse rural and urban social movements in the United States, Brazil, Cuba, Bolivia, and Mexico, which are each educating for food sovereignty. We synthesize insights from critical food systems education and the political ecology of education in analyzing these cases. We compare the thematic similarities and difference between these movements’ education initiatives in terms of their emergence, initial goals, expansion and institutionalization, relationship to the state, theoretical inspirations, pedagogical approach, educational topics, approach to student research, and outcomes. Among these thematic areas, we find that student-centered research on competing forms of production is an integral way to advance critical consciousness about the food system and the political potential of agroecological alternatives. However, what counts, as success in these programs, is highly case-dependent. For engaged scholars committed to advancing education for food sovereignty, it is essential to reflect upon the lessons learned and challenges faced by these movements.


Food sovereignty Critical pedagogy Education Critical food systems education Political ecology of education Social movements 



National Association of Small Farmers (Cuba)


Campesino a Campesino (Cuba)


Colonia Pirai Agroecological Technical Institute (Bolivia)


East Bay Urban Farmer Field School (USA)


Food Warriors (USA)


Laboratorios para la Vida (Mexico)


Farmer-to-Farmer Agroecology Movement (Cuba)


Landless Workers Movement (Brazil)



Each of the authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of the farmers and activists with which we worked. Bradley’s work with EBUFFS was financially supported by the AFRI project: Food Dignity.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Meek
    • 1
    Email author
  • Katharine Bradley
    • 2
  • Bruce Ferguson
    • 3
  • Lesli Hoey
    • 4
  • Helda Morales
    • 3
  • Peter Rosset
    • 5
  • Rebecca Tarlau
    • 6
  1. 1.University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA
  2. 2.University of California-DavisDavisUSA
  3. 3.ECOSURSan Cristóbal de Las CasasMexico
  4. 4.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  5. 5.La Via Campesina/ECOSURSan Cristóbal de Las CasasMexico
  6. 6.Stanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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