Deconstructing & Decolonizing Science for Agroecology
October 20, 2017
Time: 8:00 AM PT/ 11:00 AM ET/ 3:00 PM UTC
Presenter: Nicole Vosper, BSc graduate and MSc candidate
During this webinar, Nicole will share her work on deconstructing science – specifically how applied agroecological science, such as soil science or plant ecology, is inseparable from agrarian social thought and social movements. This call aims to begin conversations on deconstructing science, exploring its historical and contemporary relationships to the state, capitalism, and colonialism while still embracing critical research and inquiry.
There will be a short presentation followed by breakout discussions.
Nicole Vosper is a permaculture designer, agroecologist and community organizer based in Somerset, UK. She came to Gaia University having avoided the traditional university system; her life experience had made her realise that life is too short to dedicate energy to anything she is not 100% passionate about. From the age of ten Nicole’s dominant life interest has been working to end animal exploitation, a journey which has taken her around the world, to prison and back. In prison, however, she was given the opportunity to complete a permaculture design course via distance learning while working in the prison gardens.
This experience completely changed her life and perspective, and Nicole now seeks to integrate her passions for animal and human liberation with permaculture design and wider land use practices. Ultimately realizing that how we relate to the land shapes all of our social relations, Nicole’s research interests are now orientated around how we can establish ecologically and socially beneficial systems without exploitation.
In her accelerated Bachelor’s degree, Nicole focused on developing her family’s smallholding into a permaculture education center and resilient ecosystem. She has explored her work as an organizer in local community food movements, learning from peasant movements in the Global South about food sovereignty and farmer-to-farmer models of spreading agroecology techniques. She explored a liberation permaculture framework and the wider practices of regenerative land use and design, to give her the baseline set of skills she needs to be an effective designer and organizer.
In her open-topic Master’s degree, Nicole is focusing on political agroecology; how we can accelerate the speed and scale of a transition to agroecology and dismantle models of industrial agriculture. Her research work has led her to explore the capitalist food system and its relationship to the state, as well as different forms of oppression like racism, classism, sexism, and speciesism. She has focused on education for agroecology, deconstructing and decolonising science, as well as how to cultivate resilience to repression in social movements.
Before Gaia University, Nicole worked in social care, as a Youth Editor for Positive News and as a full-time grassroots organizer for numerous campaigns. Despite dropping out of college, she never lost her love of learning; instead she focused on learning by doing and studying occasional part-time courses with the Open University. Now, with Gaia University, she has finally found a system of self-education with a network of support, from all four corners of the globe. No longer do her projects have to be sidelined, instead, they can take center stage as they become the focus of her learning.
In 2013, Nicole started her worker’s co-op, Feed Avalon, which works towards ecological and socially-just food production in her local area. Nicole coordinates the EAT Project, organising accessible education and training in food system skills for low-income families. Feed Avalon organise grassroots projects, have satellite community gardens and even a mushroom lab. Nicole also runs her own design consultancy, called Empty Cages Design, offering advice and support to people developing plant-based systems. She teaches an annual Vegan Permaculture Design Course and writes for international audiences on agroecology, permaculture and social justice.