Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 259–271 | Cite as

The killing fields: Science and politics at Berkeley, California, USA

  • Bruce H. Jennings


Over the past several decades, a group of scholars at the Berkeley campus of the University of California have frequently challenged many of the dominant themes of contemporary agricultural research. In their work, they have organized curricula questioning the assumptions of conventional agriculture and its sciences while encouraging the development of alternative agricultural practices based on principles of ecology. Their collective critique has stimulated an intellectual climate calling forth a scrutiny of the university's role in the production of knowledge and the social consequences of its works. The result of this intellectual project has been a group that has also largely challenged the dominant themes of the modern university. In place of a setting where ideas are a passive currency, the modern university is a place where knowledge and power are manifest in a dialectic that is revealed not simply by the production of knowledge, but its destruction as well. It is in this context that the recent history of a group of scholars at the University of California provides a striking testimony concerning the disturbing character of science in the modern university. The ecological and social dimensions of “killing fields” that captures the contemporary hazards of food and fiber production in California is also reflected in the gradual demise of a group of researchers at Berkeley who have endeavored to provide an alternative vision of agriculture.

Biological control Environmental policy issues Agricultural research 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce H. Jennings
    • 1
  1. 1.The Evergreen State CollegeEnvironmental Change and Health ProgramOlympiaUSA

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