Rafter Sass Ferguson earned his Ph.D. in Crop Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and M.S. in Agroecology from the University of Vermont. His doctoral dissertation, "Permaculture as Farming Practice and International Grassroots Network" represents the first systematic examination of the permaculture movement. Ferguson's research is informed equally by themes in agroecology and political ecology, integrating questions about the quantifiable performance of farming systems with a concern for the ways in which our ideas about agriculture translate into policies and practices that have different consequences for different communities. Using a mix of methods, Ferguson's dissertation addresses the status of permaculture theory and practice vis-à-vis contemporary agroecology, diversity and participation in the international permaculture movement, and livelihoods on US permaculture farms. Guided by the belief that the social transformation we need requires robust cooperation across sectors, his research is designed to help build bridges between grassroots activists and the scientific community.
Ferguson recently completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at University of Lisbon, supported by the EU project Bottom-Up Climate Adaptation Strategies Towards a Sustainable Europe. He has published articles in Agronomy for Sustainable Development and Ecology and Society, and chapters in Designing the World We Want (forthcoming from International Institute for Environment and Development) and The Routledge Guide to Radical Politics (forthcoming). He has taught extensively on permaculture, movement strategy, and related themes, in academic and popular settings.