Dr. Mary Beckie is an Associate Professor and Director of Community Engagement Studies in the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta.
She holds an interdisciplinary doctorate in Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development from the University of Saskatchewan. Following the completion of her PhD, Mary was a research associate at the University of Wales, as part of the team coordinating a European study of organic agriculture and rural development.
Current teaching and research focuses on community engagement and sustainable community development, particularly as relates to agri-food system and the roles of the social economy and local government. Mary’s research is predominantly community-engaged and currently situated in western Canada, Cuba and Sri Lanka; she has also worked in the northwest USA, the UK and other parts of continental Europe.
Mary’s work has been published in a variety of journals dealing with alternative agri-food systems, community development and engaged scholarship including: Agriculture and Human Values; Rural Sociology; Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development; Local Environment; Community Development; and Community Engagement and Scholarship. She is co-editor of two forthcoming books on rural sustainability planning and implementation, and the convergence of the social economy and sustainable community development.
Mary grew up on a farm in south central Saskatchewan. Her first career path focused on the natural sciences and following the completion of a BSc in Biology and a MSc in Molecular Genetics she was involved in teaching and agricultural biotechnology research in post-secondary education and federal research institutions. Her interest in alternative agri-food systems and sustainable development led to a career change and her enrollment in the PhD program described above.
Digging in the dirt and growing food is one of Mary’s favorite past-times and when possible she tries to incorporate opportunities to do this while teaching and researching, for example: assisting in initiating a SPIN-farming project with senior immigrants in Edmonton; and, taking students on a 7-week experiential (hands-on) learning program in Cuba on sustainable urban agriculture and permaculture. When not gardening, Mary continues to struggle to learn Spanish and salsa dancing.