PSC Summer School 2016

Agriculture in Transformation: New Concepts for an Agricultural Production that is Socially Fair, Environmentally Safe and Economically Viable

11–16 & 19 September 2016, Switzerland

Future demand in agricultural output is supposed to match the needs of 9-billion people with less input of resources. Can we transform our agricultural practices and move behind existing paradigms to develop innovative and sustainable agriculture production systems?

The aim of the 2016 summer school is to facilitate an intensive interaction between students and stakeholders from federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, scientists and industry to discuss ideas, concepts, trends and share opinions on how different sustainable agriculture productions systems might develop. We will explore how current examples of a transition towards a sustainable agriculture production system on different scales can be assessed in the dimensions of “socially fair”, “environmentally safe” and “economically viable”.

The summer school integrates lectures, workshops and case studies based on an open social inquiry approach to understand the values, beliefs, interests and conflicts in our society when discussing about sustainable agriculture. Use cases for group work are from international and Swiss agricultural policy and farming practice.

Program & invited speakers

Invited speakers will give presentations, participate in plenary discussions, and act as mentors in interactive workshops. The program of the summer school will include sessions on:

Concepts, Best-Practice Examples and Assessment of Agroecological Farming Systems

• Prof. Hans R. Herren, The Millennium Institute, Washington, US

• Franziska Stössel, Institute for Environmental Engineering, ETH Zurich, CH


Concepts for Sustainable Dimensions in Food Systems

• Dr. John Ingram, ECI Food Systems Programme Leader, University of Oxford, UK

• Dr. Gurbir Bhullar, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, CH

• Dr. Michael Meissle, Agroscope Reckenholz, Zurich, CH


Governance of Sustainable Intensification / Sustainable Access to Plant Breeding Material / Ethics & Agriculture

• Emeritus Prof. Allan Buckwell, Institute for European Environmental Policy, London & Brussels, UK & Belgium

• François Meienberg, Erklärung von Bern

• Dr. Melanie Paschke, Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center, ETH Zurich, University of Basel & University of Zurich, CH


Frameworks to Protect and Improve Rural Livelihoods, Equity and Social well-being

• Dr. Philipp Aerni, Center for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, University of Zurich, Switzerland

• Martin Schmid, HEKS/EPER, Swiss Church Aid


Transition to Sustainable Agriculture Systems Production

• Markus Frank, BASF Crop Protection, Limburgerhof, Germany

• Dr. Jose Vogelezang, UR Wageningen, the Netherlands


Symposium on Monday 19.09.2016

• Marcel van der Heijden, PhD, Swiss Federal Research Institute Agroscope, Zurich, Ch


Learning objectives

Participants will:

  • Be guided to gain in-depth knowledge about global trends at the nexus of agriculture and society through keynote lectures, plenary discussions and workshop exercises.
  • Build skills in analyzing and evaluating trends and concepts of sustainable agriculture.
  • Understand the values, beliefs, interests and conflicts of different stakeholder groups when discussing about sustainable agriculture.
  • Develop scenarios for a transition to sustainable agriculture.
  • Develop a stance about the different options of how a sustainable agriculture system should look like and write and present a position statement.
  • Develop network contacts with stakeholders from science, policy and industry

Date and Venue

11–16 September 2016, Study week in Einsiedeln (Canton Schwyz):

Schweizer Jugend-und Bildungszentrum (SJBZ), Hotel Allegro

19 September 2016: Follow-up Symposium at Agroscope Reckenholz, Zürich (Federal research station)


MSc students, PhD students and PostDocs at University of Zurich, ETH Zurich or University of Basel. Preference will be given to students enrolled in, or planning to enroll in, one of the following PhD programs: Plant Sciences, Science & Policy, Ecology. Additional places are available for international student members of the CerealPath European Training Networks.


Fee covers board, lodging and activities during the summer school study week and the follow-up symposium. For CerealPath students: no fee applies.

For all other: PhD students: CHF 150; MSc students: CHF 60.

Travel expenses are not covered.


Registration will be open 1 March 2016 – 15 April 2016.

Please register here:

Applicants are  requested to submit the following items as a merged PDF:

(1) CV

(2) short motivation statement (5–10 sentences)

(3) latest publication or chapter of dissertation (if applicable).

Evaluation of the incoming registrations will be based on the participant’s education, link of personal research work to the summer school topics and motivation statement.




Zurich-Basel Plant Sciene Center: Dr. Melanie Paschke, Dr. Liselotte Selter, Dr. Carole Rapo


This summer school is part of the “Sustainable Development at Universities Programme” of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences with funding by the Swiss University Conference (SUC), the ETH Critical Thinking Initiative and the Graduate Campus, University of Zurich. PSC is program partner of CerealPath with support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie, grant agreement no. 674964.

Questions about this summer school? Please contact:

Dr. Liselotte Selter


Phone: +41 (0)44 633 91 48


Dr. Carole Rapo


Phone: +41 (0)44 632 89 50