Sustainable farm systems: long-term socioecological metabolism in western agriculture

About us

This environmental history project brings together seven international research teams at the universities of Saskatchewan (Canada), Michigan (United States), Alpen-Adria Klagenfurt in Vienna (Austria), Nacional de Colombia (Bogota), La Havana (Cuba), Pablo de Olavide (Seville) and the University of Barcelona (Catalonia, with other researchers at UAB, UdG and UdL) is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada 2012 to 2017 (SSHRC 895-2011-1020). It aims at a comparative analysis of the transition experienced by agriculture on both sides of the Atlantic from the point of view of the interaction with natural systems through the energy and material flows moved across the landscape.

The main objective of this research is to contribute to the understanding of how, when and why took place this transition from different traditional organic or solar-based agricultural systems, to the current industrialized world agriculture based in an unsustainable consumption of fossil fuels which become increasingly scarce. The historical explanation of this process in socio-metabolic, socioeconomic and landscape ecology terms can provide useful knowledge to reorient agriculture towards more sustainable paths in the twenty-first century.

The two groups coordinated in the Agroecosystem History Laboratory at the Pablo de Olavide University in Seville, and the University of Barcelona, we share the research project on ¿Sustainable Agrarian Systems? A historical interpretation of Spanish agriculture from a biophysical standpoint (HAR2015-69620-C2-1-P), which is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy from 2016 to 2018 and integrated in the abovementioned international project. Both groups have a long history of research in Spanish agriculture, either from a socioeconomic or an environmental standpoint. We are interdisciplinary teams where historians, economists, agronomists, landscape ecologists and environmental scientists are working together with the conviction that cooperating with other disciplines historical knowledge can help to find solutions to the global crisis of rural world, agroeocological unsustainability, landscape degradation and biodiversity loss.


Universidad Pablo Olavide, Sevilla
social ecology vienna-IFF
university of saskatchewan
universidad nacional de colombia
pontificia universidad javeriana