Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Educational Policy and Leadership

Content Description

1 online resource (xxxiii, 324 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Aaron Benavot

Committee Members

Alex Kumi-Yeboah, Kristen Wilcox, Kayla M. Johnson, Greg W. Misiaszek


Adaptive leadership, critical theory, ecopedagogy, Gaia, improvement science, permaculture, Permaculture, Sustainable agriculture, Sustainable development, Farmers, Agricultural education, Critical pedagogy

Subject Categories

African Studies | Environmental Education | Systems Science


This dissertation explores two main questions of farmers in Western Kenya – how they see farming as a creative process and their role in that – and how change is made possible in their community. I explore stories from farmers themselves, using photographs they have taken and stories they tell about those photographs, which answer these two questions. In doing so, I attempt to understand the degree to which collective action has taken root in a community exposed to a permaculture based curriculum within a farmer field school. It also importantly seeks to understand what happens when such a curriculum takes an approach to improvement where the assumption is that the local population will understand their own community and problems the best. Perhaps at times that understanding will best occur with outside help to facilitate knowledge exchange, in order to be able to create their own leadership and educational capacity to solve complicated problems. This case study explores an example of an ecopedagogy curriculum and how such a curriculum may impact the ways that farmers tell stories about their identities and relationships to land, one another, resources, collective action, resilience, Gaia, agriculture, and development via a participatory action research approach to educational policy and leadership improvement.