Farmer-led Research in Malawi Deepening Knowledge of Impact

Funded by Engaged Cornell, the project explored and evaluated the experiences of Cornell students participating in SFHC projects and activities.

The overall goal of the project was to understand the impacts of farmer-led participatory agroecological research in rural Malawi on student learning, and to strengthen Cornell faculty and students ability to conduct this type of research. The specific aim was to examine the impacts of farmer-led engaged learning approaches to food security on students involved with this research.

Eight students were involved in farmer-led participatory research over the past 2 years, including 4 graduate students and 4 undergraduate students. Students participated in a range of activities, including participating in social and ecological data collection, community education activities and farmer training. They spent between 2 to 10 weeks in the field on each occasion, and also participated in research lab groups before and after their experience. In-depth interviews were conducted with students before and after their fieldwork experience. Students also submitted weekly reflections during their fieldwork experiences to Dr. Bezner Kerr. In addition, 20 SFHC staff and farmers were interviewed before the students conducted their fieldwork, and 4 focus groups held with staff and farmers before they began the fieldwork with students.

In 2019, 3 students will travel to Malawi as part of this study, and will participate in several ongoing research projects with SFHC.

The project is co-led by Rachel Bezner Kerr and Esther Lupafya, with Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman collaborating. Additional funding from CALS Global Fellows supports student travel to Malawi.