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Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

Sustainability transitions of agriculture and the transformation of education and advisory services: convergence or divergence?

26th European Seminar on Extension & Education - Toulouse - 10-13 July 2023

The European Seminar on Extension & Education (ESEE) is a biennial conference about agricultural advice and education. It has gathered scholars advisors and educators since 1973. Click here to learn about past conferences organised in Ireland (2021) and Italy (2019).

It aims at supporting discussion between science and practice. Hence, it is open to a diversity of contributions, both academic and practical. ESEE gathers and contrast experiences and findings from all European countries, but also between Europe and other contexts in the global North and global South. The seminar has lead to the publication of several special issues in the Journal of Agricultural Extension and Education and other academic publications.

The 2023 conference will be organised in Toulouse. It will focus on the convergences and divergences between sustainability transitions and the new patterns of advice and education.

Sustainable transition of agriculture is at the forefront of both academic and political agenda, especially in the frame of the next European Common Agricultural Policy. Education and Advisory services are expected to be major drivers of these transitions, by co-producing knowledge with farmers and farm workers, enhancing their competences and supporting their innovation processes. At the same time, advisory services and education face major transformations (digitalisation, privatisation, new governance models, etc.). The relations between these two dynamics - sustainable transition of agriculture and the transformations of advice and education are the matter of debates and controversies. The aim of this conference will be to discuss about concepts, empirical evidence and new methods to support the contribution of advice & education to the various dimensions of sustainability, including social dimensions (inequalities and labour & work conditions) and environmental ones (climate change, biodiversity, water).

We expect extented abstracts ( see submission 'section' for more details on format and abstracts) on five topics.

  1. TOPIC 1 - Transitions towards agroecology & circular economy: Which actors and approaches of advice and education support, what hinders them?
  2. TOPIC 2 - Digitalisation of advisory services and education: what are the effects of digital technology on the practices, actors and organisation of advice and eduction?
  3. TOPIC 3 - Learning for innovation and resilience: which theory and practice developments  (for training, life-long learning and education of farmers, advisors, teachers and facilitators)?
  4. TOPIC 4 - Public policies for innovation and the governance of AKIS: how to embed advice & education into AKIS strategies and planning?
  5. TOPIC 5 - Inclusion and the social dimension of sustainability: (how) are these issues acknowledged in advice and education?

Please click on read more to learn about the five topics


TOPIC 1 – Transitions towards agroecology & circular economy: Which actors and approaches of advice and education support, what hinders them?

[Convenors: Esmaïl Karamidehkordi, Livia Madureira, Eelke Wielinga] 

The aim of this topic is to discuss whether the new patterns of advice and education support or not the integration of agroecology and circular economy. (How) do the new actors of advice and education (and the relation between these actors) contribute to transitions?

Potential issues / questions to be addressed:

  • ●             Territorial approaches: How to implement territorial approaches of advice and education to support transitions?
  • ●             Pluralism of suppliers of advice: How do the fragmentation of advisory landscapes play on sustainability transitions? What strategies do educators and advisors apply to network and cooperate as well as remain competitive in these conditions?
  • ●             Values and political orientations within education and advisory subsystems - how do impartiality and neutrality of advisors and educators matter?
  • ●             Customising advice: Education and advisory methods, tools, and skills to respond to increasing heterogeneity in farmers' needs for assessing and implementing agroecological transitions at the farm level.
  • ●             Power relations in supply chains: How do advisory services reinforce or counterbalance power relations within supply chains?
  • ●             Development of new approaches to support sustainability: What are the potentialities of network of demonstrations, democratic deliberative processes, living labs, facilitation, etc. ?
  • ●             Organisational and marketing innovations: Which policy, schemes and skills to support it?


TOPIC 2 – Digitalisation of advisory services and education

[Convenors: Laurens Klerkx, Andrea Knierim, Peter Paree]

A wide diversity of digital technology is now routinely used in agricultural advice and education. However, we still lack knowledge about how they actually transform the practices, organisations and effectiveness of advice and education.

Potential questions to be addressed:

  • ●             Data governance: which role of advice and education in supporting the management and governance of data? What are the emerging advisory business models associated with agricultural data? What initiatives can be taken to enable teachers and advisors to support farmers in safe and effective data management?
  • ●             Directionality: does digitalisation continue to reinforce the industrialisation of agriculture or can it also serve alternative models with new advice and education models and practices?
  • ●             Empowerment: Can digitisation help advisors and educators reinforce farmers position?
  • ●             Evaluation: how can we evaluate the uptake and effects of digital tools and technologies ? Can advisory services contribute to this?
  • ●             Tools: can we showcase examples of education and advisory digital tools that actually support sustainability? How do they impact educators’ and advisors’ practices, skills and organisations?
  • ●             Digital divide in rural areas: can we highlight successful individual/community/public initiatives to include remote communities?


TOPIC 3 – Learning for innovation and resilience: theory and practice developments  (for training, life-long learning and education of farmers, advisors, teachers and facilitators)

[Convenors: Monica Gorman, Alex Koutsouris, Maria Gester-Bentaya]

The traditional approach to education must evolve from being a concentrated period at the start of a career to one where learning is an integral lifelong process that equips individuals and communities with the skills, knowledge and confidence to meet and embrace change.

Potential questions to be addressed:

  •              Approaches and tools: Which approaches and methodologies are appropriate for collaborative, participative and transdisciplinary learning? Development of new and existing tools to promote collaborative, participative and transdisciplinary learning
  • ●             Next generation: What changes are needed or are happening in the education of the next generation - the nexus of continuity and change (including the digital revolution and the challenges of climate, environment, etc.)
  • ●             Skills: How are generic and specific skills for advisors, teachers and facilitators (at both individual and collective or organisational level) identified, translated into training tools and methods, and implemented? Development of frameworks to guide CPD for farmers, advisors, teachers and facilitators
  • ●             Systemic changes: How to support farm households through (formal & informal) education in view of systemic changes (new climate challenges, sustainability targets, social & health challenges, etc) How to better connect research, education and communities
  • ●             Reaching the hard-to-reach : How to address/attract people with low/no interest in advisory and education, in EIP agri projects, etc.? How to reach the hard-to-reach?


TOPIC 4 – Public policies for innovation and the governance of AKIS: how to embed advice & education into strategies of AKIS

[Convenors: Simona Cristiano,Michael Kügler, Patrizia Proietti]

In the EU, Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS) have become explicitly a concept for innovation policy, in a context of support of sustainable transition. The aim of this topic is to explore the consequences of this new paradigm, by contrasting experiences in different European countries, but also between Europe and other contexts in the global North and global South.

Potential questions to be addressed

  • ●             the new CAP: Support to knowledge exchange and innovation processes are central concerns of the new CAP: How and with what effects are such measures designed and implemented by member states?
  • ●             Governance of AKIS: How do actors grasp and enact the AKIS concept?  What structures and mechanisms are in place for effective and efficient coordination of AKIS stakeholders? Are there new funding schemes within AKIS policy: vouchers, etc.
  • ●             Independent advice: The notion of “independent” and “impartial” advice is explicit within the new CAP. How can this notion be designed and implemented in a context of increased pluralism of suppliers?
  • ●             Monitoring and Evaluation: how can the embedeness of advice and education actors be evaluated? How to measure to which extent advisors are interconnected? How can we measure and strengthen knowledge flows?


TOPIC 5 – Inclusion and the social dimension of sustainability: (how) are these issues acknowledged in advice and education?

[Convenors: Pierre Labarthe, Mark Moore]

Social cohesion is a the forefront of agricultural and rural policies, both in Europe (with for instance the notion of social conditionality of EU support measures), but also in other contexts. A main question is then how do advice and education deal with the diversity of populations they are expected to serve? How can it improve their working conditions?

Potential questions to be addressed

  • ●             Inequalities:  How to integrate time gaps and heterogeneity in geographic and farming structures: How can advice learn and share customised information about transitions risks, costs and benefits, and avoid inequalities or inequities?
  • ●             Occupational Health: how are workers’ and farmers’ health integrated into advice and education? Specific focus on occupational (exposition to pesticides, etc.) or on mental health issues
  • ●             Workers and contractors: farm populations are changing, more workers (including migrants and precarious), more contractors, new entrants with different business models… how are they acknowledged and served by advice and education?
  • ●             New entrants: How are new farming ( business) models (social farming, solidarity farming, cooperation among farms/ farmers, …) taken up in advisory services and education - specifically in the transition phase? What are the approaches to better link farmers and consumers in view of changing perspectives, attitudes, common understanding
  • ●             Small farms revisited: are there new approaches to take into account small scale and part-time farmers in advisory and education
  • Gender: considering women as a specific target group - still necessary of have we move towards gender mainstreaming? How to address pratically gender issues in advice and education?