Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Theses & dissertations (Interdisciplinary)


Sustainable Agriculture

First Advisor

Kevin de Laplante

Second Advisor

Fred Kirschenmann


With the steady increase in the market share of organic food over the last 30 years, some farmers have switched from "conventional" to "sustainable" agricultural practices in order to capitalize on those new markets. Are the practices the only things that need to change?

Building off of Warwick Fox's conception of "transpersonal ecology," transpersonal agroecology (TPAE) is the name given to a proposed alternative mindset of the farmer derived from various alternative agricultural theorists of the last 100 years. These writers oppose the scientism and economism that typify industrial agriculture, subscribe to the notion that experiences of "identification" between the farmer and the beings on the farm are an important component of a truly sustainable agriculture, and suggest that a truly sustainable agriculture requires a radical critique of the metaphysical assumptions that underlie modern agricultural practices. A case is made that a process metaphysics (based on the philosophy of A.N. Whitehead) can productively support a transpersonal agroecological way of being on the farm with its requisite sustainable agricultural practices.

Finally, though many theorists have analyzed both industrial and sustainable agriculture from an ideological perspective, most of them partake of a subtle form of materialism, recapitulating the belief that relationships among beings are exclusively external. This subtle materialism precludes the farmer from ascribing interiority to the majority of the beings she is in relationship with. Revisiting transpersonal agroecology, with an understanding of interiority, yields a truly holistic, integral agriculture that takes seriously the mindset of the farmer and the interiority of the beings on the farm.


Copyright Owner

Travis E. B. Cox



File Format


File Size

158 pages