The Pedagogy of Black Agrarianism: A Process of Recovery
Shakara Tyler

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



Michigan State University

Primary Discipline

Black agrarianism is a pedagogical thought, praxis, and social movement rooted in land, food, freedom, and sovereignty. The pedagogies of Black agrarianism take many forms and remains an unexplored research subject in academia and an under-discussed topic in Black agricultural communities. From a historical point of view, this study interrogates the historical record of Black agrarian pedagogies by asking: What are the historical pedagogies of Black agrarianism? Through a historiography of Black agrarian educational institutions, 13 oral history interviews and archival research focused on Tuskegee University, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Fannie Lou Hamer’s Freedom Farm Cooperative and the Free Southern Theater provide insight into the historical layout of Black agrarian pedagogy. From a present-day point of view, this study interrogates the current manifestation of Black agrarian pedagogies by asking: What are the contemporary pedagogies of Black agrarianism? Through a participatory case study with D-Town Farm of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN), 19 semi-structured interviews with D-Town Farm volunteers and staff and participant observation of the farm educational events provide insight into the contemporary layout of Black agrarian pedagogy. From an introspective point of view, the study centers the intersectional “I” in the research process by asking: What are the self-reflective pedagogies of Black agrarianism? Autoethnographic fieldnotes provide insight into my role as a pedagogical actor in this pedagogically-oriented research. The general warrant of this participatory inquiry is to explore the pedagogies of Black agrarianism as an example of community-centered agricultural education. As a form of participatory inquiry, it fosters a transdisciplinary understanding of what Black farmer education looks like in order to build more effective educational programs, particularly in urban agricultural environments.
About Shakara Tyler
Shakara Tyler is a returning-generation farmer, seedkeeper, educator, and researcher and community organizer. She is a PhD candidate at Michigan State University studying agroeoclogical education and Black agrarianism in the Department of Community Sustainability. She has worked with the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems as the Underserved Farmer Development Specialist where she provided technical assistance to underserved farming groups such as farmers of color, women farmers and beginning farmers as well as developed research agendas focused on better supporting these communities. As part of her academic studies, she explores participatory and decolonial research methodologies and community-centered pedagogies in the food justice and food sovereignty movements. She serves as a board member of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN), a coordinating member of the Black Dirt Farm Collective in Maryland and an educational research consultant with the Southeast African American Farmers Organic Network (SAAFON) in Georgia. Through these roles, she works with communities to explore agroeoclogical pedagogies as tools in building community self-determination and anticolonial realities. Upon completion of her PhD, she intends to continue her work as a faculty member in the academy where she can engage in ecology, social science and the arts along the intersections of research, teaching and community engagement.

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