Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2024

Document Type

Thesis (Master's)

Department or Program

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

First Advisor

David Van Wie

Second Advisor

Steven Peterson

Third Advisor

Kenneth Sharpe


Climate change is now recognized by businesses as a major challenge, prompting the agribusiness sector to transform to meet sustainability goals. However, there are many ways to achieve sustainability. Precision agriculture and agroecology are two concepts that evolved from conventional and regenerative approaches respectively, and offer distinct perspectives on sustainability attainment. Precision agriculture relies on technological solutions like artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, gene editing, and carbon dioxide removal technologies (CDR) and aims to revolutionize industry operations through automatization. Agroecology, on the other hand, creates a symbiotic relationship between farming practices and ecosystem services. It aims to replace non-renewable resources with nature-based solutions and an ecologically skilled workforce (Carlisle et al., 2019). It not only sustains food production but also preserves the ecological balance and supports local communities. This thesis investigates whether and how these contrasting approaches - precision agriculture and agroecology - can be complementary, integrating both to achieve greater environmental and socio-economic outcomes. For that, I take a systemic perspective (complex systems view) and review them through cultural, environmental, and business perspectives. In three parts, I conduct a comprehensive multidisciplinary analysis of how these factors interact within a complex system. In the first part, I explain how cultural perceptions determine attitudes toward nature and the cultivation of food. The second part covers the role of biodiversity as an indispensable element of natural and artificial ecosystems’ health and resilience. In the third part, I examine the logic behind business decision-making and demonstrate how it overlooks

nature’s and social complexity by favoring quantifiable data. Then, as an accredited observer at COP28, I further investigate the discourse on sustainability strategies at the main platform for global climate action. I stress the importance of cross-cultural interactions and the creation of a “dialogue of knowledge systems” that should foster cooperation and mutuality. Additionally, I discuss how technologies such as AI can be developed in a way to enhance and generate new human capabilities, instead of taking them away. This research highlights ways to leverage technology for sustainable and ethical advancement, advocating for a holistic approach that integrates diverse knowledge systems and promotes solidarity and inclusivity.