To Support Transformative AE

Lead Organization:

University of Vermont (UVM) and State Agricultural College Foundation

Partner Organizations:

RMS, Soil Health, and FRN teams; Center for Agroecology, Water, and Resilience (CAWR); Groundswell International; El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) (Mexico); Stats4SD; Community Agroecology Network (CAN); Global Alliance for the Future of Food; Latin American Scientific Society for Agroecology (SOCLA); UVM Gund Institute for Environment; Tropical Agricultural Research and Education Center (CATIE); Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS); International University of Andalucía (UNIA); and Universidad Pablo de Olavide (UPO) (Spain)




As agroecology (AE) has been evolving, so has McKnight’s Collaboration for Resilient Food Systems (CRFS) program. Its cross-cutting Agroecology Support (AES) team is redirecting its strategies and work to support the evolution of both the CRFS and field of AE. In addition, the creation of the new Institute for Agroecology (IFA) at UVM provides an institutional anchor to focus deeply on transformative agroecology in the AES team’s work. The IFA focuses on structural issues, participatory and transdisciplinary research, and centering in equity as pillars for transformation. 

Known for its collaborative approach and commitment to dialogue, the team is well-placed to make the most of this moment. However, among the challenges is that this is new territory. Deep transformation requires change from the individual person to high level actors such as  governments and international institutions.

Grant Aims:

The overall goal is to deepen food systems transformation work. Growing interest from a wide range of actors presents an opportunity to collaborate and co-learn with others.  

Specifically, the project aims to work with the CRFS to define:

  • What agroecological transformation means for the program
  • How to strongly align it with the new CRFS strategies
  • How to operationalize the approach so it can be incorporated, with enthusiasm, by the regional teams and projects

Outputs and Outcomes:


  • At least five courses developed focusing on key themes around transformative AE and just transitions; delivered in Spanish, English, and French 
  • As they are solidified, the above brought to CRFS CoPs; work with CRFS leadership team to invite other partners and collaborators from the regions and beyond to participate in courses 
  • Different types of briefs, videos, and other pedagogical materials supporting online courses and also standing on their own as transformative AE references (e.g. IFA Perspectives on Agroecology Transitions Series)
  • In-person or online workshops deepening co-learning on themes relevant to transformative AE 
  • AES key part of organizing biennial international AE summit, bringing together funders, academics, farmers, and social movement people from both global north and south to dialogue; event serving as a platform to support and advance international collaboration 
  • Strategic selection within McKnight global spaces where AES team will show up and engage; definition of tentative number of initiatives and events that AES covers 
  • Variety of materials in different media designed to communicate with global audiences and change the narrative in international spaces 
  • AES team facilitating participatory process with at least two regional teams and selected projects to systematize and analyze transformative AE in each region 
  • Drawing on regional syntheses, AES team facilitating program-level synthesis on transformative AE in CRFS
  • Events in each region and select global spaces sharing and co-learning using syntheses
  • Variety of materials in different media communicating with diverse audiences and sharing and co-learning using syntheses


  • Deepening of understanding of transformative AE across CRFS
  • Higher visibility for CRFS projects and program
  • Expansion and deepening of networks for transformative AE across CRFS
  • Establishment of permanent series of convenings for co-learning, networking, discussing, and collaborating around transformative AE
  • Active engagement in global spaces advocating for and advancing transformative AE
  • Better understanding of state of transformative AE across at least two of the regions and program