January Faculty Spotlight: Bruce Ferguson

Bruce Ferguson | SFSI Visting Faculty

A researcher, agroecologist, lifelong lover of peanut butter, and former student of SFSI faculty, Dr. Bruce Ferguson is a visiting scholar this semester with SFSI and the SEAS Food Systems Theme. Dr. Ferguson is a researcher and professor in Mexico at the Agroecology Group at the San Cristóbal de Las Casas campus of El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR), a federal research center.

How does your work connect to issues of food systems and sustainability? 

My work focuses on scaling out agroecology and encompasses agroecological practice, local knowledge, action research, and pedagogy. Helda Morales and I co-coordinates Laboratorios para la Vida, a program that trains educators to use school gardens and local food systems as venues for learning in agroecology, the scientific process, and healthy eating, and for fostering horizontal dialogue between local and academic knowledge. My research and teaching also explores the interface between ecological restoration and agroecology. Lastly, I help teach a graduate course in food systems.

What drew you to spend your sabbatical at the University of Michigan?

The UM Sustainable Food Systems Initiative! I did my MS and PhD with Ivette Perfecto and John Vandermeer and have kept in touch with UM largely through them and the New World Agriculture and Ecology Group. During my sabbatical, I look forward to interacting with others involved in SFSI, particularly through the Food Literacy for All course. I’m also interested in connecting with Center for Research onTeaching & Learning (CRLT), and others involved in educational research. We are looking for new teaching strategies for our work with LabVida and for a professional masters program in agroecology we are developing at ECOSUR.

Also my son is studying at Kalamazoo College and my folks live in Kalamazoo. We are excited to be close to them for a while.

What is your strongest food memory?

Peanut butter. As a kid I was a terribly picky eater and for several years peanut butter constituted a huge portion of my caloric intake. It had to be creamy and totally homogeneous, preferably the kind that came in a big bucket…none of that co-op spread!

What is your vision of an equitable, healthy, and sustainable food system?

I’m working on an essay to explain our group’s vision of agroecological scaling, and I think a piece of the conclusions responds well to this question: “We need…structural change that is pluralistic, transformative, holistic, revolutionary, even spiritual. An agroecological world view will take economies into account without putting them at the center of our interactions. It will focus not on scarcity, but on our collective knowledge and abilities, and on just relationships among ourselves, and with the land. In theory, and in practice, this means working not toward a single big endeavor, but a multitude of contextualized, articulated agroecologies.”

If you are interested in connecting with Bruce Ferguson during his time with SFSI, send him an email at bgfecosur@gmail.com.