39173 - Seminar 1

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Moduli: Giovanni Dinelli (Modulo Mod 1) Miguel Angel Altieri (Modulo Mod 2)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo Mod 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo Mod 2)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Agricultural Sciences and Technologies (cod. 9235)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student will acquire adequate scientific preparation related to agroecology, with particular reference to the relationships between environmental factors, ecology and resilience to extreme climatic events.

In particular, the student is able to: understand the main ecological factors that regulate agro-ecosystems and how these factors can influence plant production; to understand the main techniques for maintaining the ecological balance in the farm; to understand the different meanings of the term "agro-ecosystem" in reference to different production models and their relative intensification; to understand the different cognitive tools to interpret the ecological responses of agricultural systems according to applied agro-techniques.

Course contents

The course, entitled "Agroecology: Principles and applications"; is held by Professor Miguel Altieri (University of California, Berkeley, USA), internationally renowned expert in the field of Agroecology.

The course describes the principles and practices of agroecology necessary to define resilient and productive agricultural systems, which are compatible with the environment, capable of promoting social justice and economic development while restoring a planet in crisis.

Agroecology is a science that applies ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable agricultural ecosystems. Inspired by the diversified models of traditional agriculture, agroecologists promote crop diversification (polycultures, crop-livestock combinations, rotations, agroforestry systems, etc.) as an effective agroecological strategy for introducing more biodiversity into agroecosystems, which in turn provides a number of ecological services to farmers such as natural soil fertility, pest regulation, pollination, etc.

For agroecologists, a starting point in the development of sustainable and resilient agricultural systems are the very farming systems that traditional farmers have developed and/or inherited throughout centuries. Such complex farming systems, adapted to the local conditions, have helped small farmers to sustainably manage harsh environments and to meet their subsistence needs, without depending on mechanization, chemical fertilizers, pesticides or other technologies of modern agricultural science. Therefore agroecological approach involves the application of blended agricultural and ecological sciences with indigenous knowledge systems.

Agroecology also includes a sociopolitical dimension implicitly advocating for social justice and the transformation of the global industrial food system to a more localized and equitable one. Agroecology offers the best agricultural system able to cope with future challenges by exhibiting high levels of diversity and resilience, both emergent properties increasingly recognized for their potential to reduce risk from climate-change or other threats such as the current COVID 19 pandemics, while delivering reasonable yields and providing key ecosystem services to society.

The course is divided into two parts: the first part (Principles of Agroecology - 8 hours) deals with the scientific background and bases of agroecology, while the second part (Applications of Agroecology - 7 hours) aims to highlight the main applications of agroecology in agricultural production systems. The addressed topics concern:

- definition of an agroecological production system

- principles of temporal and spatial design of agro-ecosystems

- requirements of agro-ecological agricultural systems

- potential of agroecological systems in terms of diffusion, productivity and food safety

- agroecology and ability to recover from extreme climatic events

-agroecological innovations

-agroecology and resilience


Lecture slides and materials relating to the covered topics and case studies addressed during the lessons will be provided by the teachers.

The materials will also be available on "Insegnamenti online" - IOL (https://iol.unibo.it/)


Recommended textbooks (available in Italian):

Sulla via della Madre Terra. Agroecologia: una rivoluzione tra scienza e politica - Miguel A. Altieri, Peter M. Rosset - ISBN/EAN: 978-88-5523-007-0

Agroecologia. Una via percorribile per un pianeta in crisi - Altieri Miguel A., Nicholls Clara I., Ponti Luigi - ISBN 978-88-506-5486-4

Teaching methods

The course is divided into units developed in frontal lessons. In addition, case studies will be presented.

The seminar is organized thanks to the funding of ATENEO for EXCELLENT DEPARTMENTS (DISTAL).

Assessment methods

The learning assessment will take place through a single final written test, reserved for enrolled students who have attended the course (not less than 80% of the total hours).

The test (lasting approximately 60 minutes) consists of a multiple-choice test (10-20 total questions). To pass the test, the student must correctly answer at least 60% of the questions. Passing the verification test will award a professional qualification. To carry out the test, technical manuals, calculator or multimedia aids are not necessary and therefore not allowed.

Teaching tools

Personal computer and video projector for classroom activities.

DIDACTIC MATERIAL - the didactic material presented in class is made available to the student in electronic format. Access to the material is allowed only to students enrolled in the seminar.

Office hours

See the website of Giovanni Dinelli

See the website of Miguel Angel Altieri


Sustainable cities Responsible consumption and production Climate Action

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.