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Ali Taherzadeh

Miss Ali Taherzadeh

Research student


I am an ESRC DTP Wales PhD student at the Sustainable Places Research Institute and within the school of Geography and Planning. As a community organiser and scholar-activist, I root myself in traditions of critical pedagogy and participatory action research. As an educator and educational researcher working within the field of Geography, I research place-based and political learning practices with a focus on sustainability transitions and food systems.

My current project aims to support agroecological transitions in the UK through developing and sharing grassroots learning practices. It focuses on the various social movement learning and organising strategies employed by the agroecology movement to scale agroecological practice and political mobilisation. Exploring the place-based factors shaping these learning practice will help groups in different regions adapt models and strategies to suit their contexts and contribute to the body of knowledge on agroecological learning and farmer-to-farmer practices.

Past Research Projects

  • Learning Pathways into Sustainable Agriculture (2019)
  • Working Co-operatively for Sustainable and Just Food Systems in Wales (funded by Wales Co-operative Party)
  • Connected Learning Spaces [SUSPLACE] (2018-2019)


  • MSc International and Comparative Education with Distinction, Stockholm University, Sweden (2016-2018).
  • Erasmus Study Program, Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain (2017-2018).
  • Postgraducat Certificate in Education (Secondary Mathematics) with Merit, University of Warwick, UK (2014-2015).
  • Masters of Mathematics (MMaths), First Class, University of Warwick, UK (2009-2013).

External Activities/Membership

  • Cardiff University Food Research Collective (CU FORC)
  • EU Marie Curie International Fellow – Connected Learning Spaces, SUSPLACE programme (2018 – present).

Innovation and Engagement

  • Session organiser and co-chair, "Transforming Agricultural Learning: From Troubled Pasts to Pedagogies of Hope", RGS-IBG Annual Conference (2019).
  • Event co-organiser, "Learning from the Grassroots", ESRC Festival of Social Sciences (2019).
  • Project Co-ordinator, Grow to Learn (Growing to Learn), Education for Sustainable Development volunteer programme (2018-2019).
  • Event co-organiser, "Sense of Place(s)", ESRC Festival of Social Sciences (2018).
  • Session co-organiser, "Scholar Activism: Zine-Making as Reflective Practice", SUSPLACE Final Event 2019, Luke University, Finland (2019).








  • Agroecology and Food Sovereignty
  • Sustainability Transitions
  • Critical Pedagogy
  • Social Movement Learning
  • Social Movement Theory
  • Place-based Learning


[Resisting, Learning, Growing] Investigating the Role of Place-Based Social Movement Learning in Scaling UK Agroecology.

Transitions to agroecology require a radical rethinking of agricultural learning and training. Current top-down approaches to knowledge transfer - scientist to farmer - are inadequate for the social, economic and environmental challenges facing the food system and inappropriate for the place-embedded nature of agroecological knowledge and practice. Grassroots agroecology movements are setting a new agenda for farmer-led agricultural learning, inspired partly by farmer-to-farmer models developed in Latin America and promoted by the international peasant network La Via Campesina. These approaches are often influenced by critical pedagogy and aim to foster transformative learning by promoting horizontal practices and political education to scale agroecology. The UK agroecology movement is connected with other movements nationally and is situated within broader global food sovereignty and ecological justice movements. Learning models and practices - which involve consideration of facilitation, communication, group organisation and many other aspects - are therefore influenced by wider currents within UK and global social movements. In order to support the effective scaling of agroecology in the UK, this research aims to work alongside landworkers and food system activists to understand more about these practices and the importance of place in both design and impact so that a diverse range of informed practices can be developed. This is a participatory action research and activist research project.

Research Questions

  1. How are social movement learning strategies employed in the UK agroecology movement in order to scale agroecology?
  2. How do place-based factors influence learning practices within the UK agroecology movement?
  3. What characteristics do successful learning practices for scaling agroecology have in the UK? And what are the barriers to their impact in different places?

If you are a farmer or food systems activist and would like to work together or contribute to the research design or outputs then drop me an email.

Funding Source

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Wales Doctoral Training Partnership.

Conference Communications

Nicol N. and Taherzadeh A. "Working Co-operatively for Sustainable and Just Food Systems in Wales" in PLACE Seminar Series, Cardiff University, UK. June 2020.

Taherzadeh A. "New entrant farmers in sustainable agriculture: motivations and learning pathways" in PLACE Seminar Series, Cardiff University, UK. January 2020.

Taherzadeh A. "Learning Pathways of New Entrants in Sustainable Agriculture" in RGS-IBG Annual Conference, Imperial College London, UK. August 2019.

Taherzadeh A. "Learning Together about Learning by Learning Together" in PLACE Seminar Series, Cardiff University, UK. June 2019.

Taherzadeh A. "Exploring Service-Learning in HESD" in Education Research Forum, Cardiff University, UK. June 2019.

Taherzadeh A. "Service-Learning and Action Research" in PGCE Annual Conference, Cardiff University, UK. May 2019.

Taherzadeh A. "Exploring Service Learning in Higher Education for Sustainable Development" in SUSPLACE Final Event 2019, Luke University, Finland. May 2019.

Taherzadeh A. "Exploring Service Learning in Higher Education for Sustainable Development" in PedRIO Annual Conference, Plymouth University, UK. May 2019.

Taherzadeh A. "Connected Learning Spaces" in RGS-IBG Annual Conference, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK. August 2018.

Taherzadeh A. "Education, Agroecology, and Indigenous Rights" in Joint International Seminar Presentation, Stockholm University, Sweden, with the Universities of Tokyo and Jyväskylä (2017) February 2017.


Hannah Pitt

Hannah Pitt

Lecturer in Environmental Geography