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Prof. Marjolein Visser

Professor — Professeure

Chair of Agroecology at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium

Tel: +32 (0)2 650 21 33


Profile & curriculum

MSc in Agricultural Sciences, Ghent University (B) (1986-1991)

PhD in Biological Sciences in Applied Biological Sciences, Ghent University (1997-2001)

Marie Curie Post-Doc fellowship, National University of Ireland, Galway (2002-2004)

Thematics : Agroecology and Farming systems

How can we adequately feed ourselves while ensuring a dignified livelihood for farmers and fostering the integrity of socio-ecosystems, locally and globally?

Starting from our own households all the way to the arenas of transnational policies, our research group explores other models and modes of organising the farm-food nexus. We are driven by agroecology and its potential to address the compelling need for changes of approach and postures in research. We need these changes to address in turn the quest for autonomy by peasant communities and urban households alike. For this to work, we ought to genuinely transform the way we work in research and open up to transdisciplinarity. We thus practice a philosophy of “zooming out to better zoom in”.

Read more here to understand how we aim to foster this socio-ecological transformation.

Research interests

  • Technical questions: trees in farmed landscapes, grassland based farming, soil health, biological soil analysis, seed ecology (dormancy, germination, genetics, diversity, crop breeding), human nutrition

  • Broader and systemic questions: ecosystem integrity versus food production, soil stewardship, the seed question (origin, ownership, adaptation), agrarian change under population pressure, peasantries and their quest for autonomy, reconnecting cities with their hinterlands, human ecology, food to reconnect households and farms

  • Methodological questions: transdisciplinary research methodologies, participatory action research, rural appraisal, farming system diagnostics

Current research projects

Biodiversity conservation in Burkina Faso (2017-present): How to reconcile wildlife conservation with agrarian change under population pressure and climate change? 

Wallonia and Andalucia (2013-present):  Looking for local wheat seed, cropping and breadmaking through networks connecting farmers, bakers, millers, citizens and researchers, PhD Sofia Baltazar.

Philippines and Andalucia (2012-present): Soil health as managed and perceived by a peasant farmers network, PhD Lola Richelle.

Wallonia (2013-present): Converging and diverging trajectories, discourses and social networks of near-neighbouring farms, Belgium, PhD Line Louah.

Flanders (2014-present): Barriers to the development of agroforestry, PhD Lieve Borremans.


Within the Interfaculty School of Bio-engineering Sciences, I teach both at Bachelor’s and Master’s level.


At the Bachelor’s level I teach “Agroecosystems and Farming” (BING-F-202) and “Agroecology” (BING-F-305), which are the key courses leading to our Master of Agricultural Sciences.


At the Master’s level, I organise a two-week internship at the experimental farm of the CARAH in Ath (Belgium) (BING-F-416) together with François Serneels (CARAH). Together with Dr. Werner Bosmans (DC Environment, EC), I teach “Farm economics and rural development” (BING-F-4001). I further contribute to Prof. Nicolas Vereecken’s “Agroecological Innovations and Ecosystem Services” (BING-F-431) and to Dr. Olivier Hardy’s “Plant Population Genetics and Breeding” (BING-F-4006). Besides these fixed commitments, I exchange courses and seminars, both within and outside the ULB.

Five key publications

- Louah L., M. Visser, A. Blaimont & C. De Cannière, 2017. Barriers to the development of temperate agroforestry as an example of agroecological innovation : Mainly a matter of cognitive lock-in ? Land Use Policy 67: 86-97.

- Flament J. & M. Visser, 2017. Transition vers plus d’autonomie: entre économie et marginalité. Le cas d’un collectif d’agriculteurs laitiers en region hennuyère wallonne. In: Le role des collectifs dans la transition (Eds. Van Dam Denise, J. Nizet, M. Streith). Educagri.

- Stassart P.M., Ph. Baret, J-Cl. Grégoire, Th. Hance, M. Mormont, D. Reheul, D. Stilmant, G. Vanloqueren & M. Visser, 2012. Trajectoire et potentiel de l'agroécologie, pour une transition vers des systèmes alimentaires durables, papier de positionnement du GIRAF, in Agroécologie, entre pratiques et sciences sociales (eds. Van Dam D., J. Nizet, M. Streith and P.M. Stassart), Educagri, 2012. Downloadable from

- Visser M, J. Moran, E.C. Regan, M. Gormally M & M. Sheehy Skeffington, 2007. How users and non-users perceive turlough management under the converging EU agendas of Natura 2000 and CAP in Ireland. Land Use Policy 24: 362-373.

- Visser M. & D. Reheul, 2001. Restoring depleted Tunisian drylands with native species: where should we source the seeds? Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 48:567-578.

All publications are available upon request or through ResearchGate

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