Agroecology – the who’s who

What is agroecology? Agroecology is defined as “the application of ecological concepts to the design and management of sustainable agro-ecosystems” (Silici, 2014). The principles of agroecology are increasingly gaining traction as a means to building agri system sustainability and resilience, reducing dependence on costly chemical inputs, and building productivity at the farm level through the production of a diverse range of products (Silici, 2014).

While there is a broad base of empirical studies that support the implementation of agroecological principles, there are a few individuals that have been particularly influential in building this scientific base, and communicating findings to policy makers, development organisations, and the broader public. In a chat with Myles Oelofse, Blue North’s resident Soil Scientist, this list was narrowed down to four particular individuals: Prof. Jules Pretty; Prof. Sir Gordon Conway; Prof. Miguel Altieri; and Prof. Stephen Gliessman.

Prof. Jules Pretty is a Professor of Environment and Society, and the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Sussex, England. Prof. Pretty has been awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for his work in sustainable agriculture, in addition to having published a number of books (including The Edge of Extinction and This Luminous Coast) , and authored and co-authored a heap of peer-reviewed papers on agricultural sustainability, and on the links between nature and health and on consumption patterns and well-being. You can find more information about Jules Pretty and his research HERE.

Prof. Sir Gordon Conway is the Director of Agriculture for Impact (“Growing opportunities for Africa’s development”), and Professor of International Development at Imperial College London. In the early 1960’s, while based in Borneo, Prof. Sir Gordon Conway became a pioneer of sustainable agriculture and integrated pest management. Books by Conway include One Billion Hungry: Can we Feed the World? and The Doubly Green Revolution: Food for all in the 21st century.

Prof. Miguel Altieri is a professor of Agroecology at the University of California, Berkley, and has served as a scientific advisor to the Latin America Consortium on Agroecology and Development, and as the General Coordinator for the United Nations Development Programme’s Sustainable Agriculture Networking and Extension Programme, in addition to serving on a number of other agroecology programme boards. Altieri is the author of more than 230 papers and a number of books, including Agroecology: The Science of Sustainable Agriculture and Biodiversity and Pest Management in Agroecosystems. More information on Prof. Altieri can be found HERE.

Prof. Stephen Gliessman is the Alfred E. Heller Professor of Agroecology in the University of California, Santa Cruz’s Environmental Studies Department and is the chief editor of the Journal of Sustainable Agriculture. Gliessman is the author of the ‘groundbreaking’ textbook: “Agroecology: The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems“, in addition to numerous other books and articles. Gliessmen, together with his wife, is also the founder of the Community Agroecology Network (CAN), the goal of which is to “help a network of rural, primarily coffee-growing communities in Mexico and Central America develop self-sufficiency and sustainable growing practices”. More information on Gliessman can be found HERE.



Agriculture for Impact. [Online]. Accessed: 28 March 2017

Agroecology in Action. Miguel Altieri. [Online]. Accessed: 28 March 2017.

Imperial College London. Professor Sir Gordon Conway. [Online]. Accessed: 28 March 2017.

Jules Pretty. [Online]. Accessed: 27 March 2017.

Silici (2014). Agroecology: What it is and what it has to offer. IIED Food and Agriculture. Issue Paper, June 2014.

University of Santa Cruz. Stephen R. Gliessman: Alfred E. Heller Professor of Agroecology, UC Santa Cruz. [Online]. Accessed: 28 March 2017