The Agricultural Mutations Chair

The agricultural mutations chair aims to produce new ideas and knowledge and to stimulate debate on the future of the agricultural and rural environments in the face of the profound changes that affect the agricultural community.
It brings together specialists in the economic and social sciences as well as agricultural and food professionals and actors in rural areas. Its area of focus is agriculture, in particular, and more especially the trades and professions, social inclusion of activities and the dynamics of development.
Thus, at the time where the digital revolution allowed individuals to be connected between themselves massively, and where a new movement is developing on the basis of the connection of objects between them, it is examining how agriculture and farmers fit into this movement. Specifically, it seeks to analyse the challenges that this movement of mass digitisation of data represent for farmers, for agents who trade with them or give them advice, and for agriculture-related sectors.

The only French sociology chair that deals with the agricultural profession

A tool for the production of knowledge but also a means of visibility and prestige, chairs are rare in the area of teaching and research in agriculture. ESA is the first private school to venture into this area, made possible by its expertise and its reputation in this area and the identification of a basic question in its professional environment, which finds an echo in French society: what is the future for the agricultural profession?


To respond to structural changes, a lack of knowledge and a strong need for visibility of economic actors.

  • For 25 years, sociological production on agriculture and rural life has declined. A paradoxical development given the return of the interest in rural areas/nature, as well as the economic, political and cultural problems that agriculture is going through.
  • The professional organisations and agri-food companies need clarification on the reasons for these difficulties and on the responses to them.

How ?

The creation at ESA of the rural Agricultural Mutations Chair is based on the idea of developing research on the transformations in the worlds of agriculture and rural life, while giving them a better readability.

If its area concerns particularly agriculture, it is also interested in the interactions between this sector and rural life: its relations with other professions, the interactions between trades and among social groups, life in communities in rural areas…

Priority will be given to three issues:

  • the profession of farmer
  • the process of professional commitment
  • the dynamics of innovation and their conditions of societal integration

The chair’s partners

The creation of a chair means working with partners. It is dependent on collaboration between players in education and research (lecturers-researchers, doctoral students and students) and professionals from the agricultural world (enterprises, professional organisations, farmers, elected representatives, etc.)

The two partners of the chair:

  • The Crédit Agricole de l’Anjou et du Maine
  • The Chamber of Agriculture of the Pays de la Loire

bringing their expertise, contributing to the definitions of its strategic approaches, as well as its financing.
Other partnership methods are open, such as the financing of theses, the carrying out of specific studies, personalised training, etc.
You too, could become partners of the Agricultural Mutations Chair!

More information available at:

Bertille THAREAU
Responsable de la chaire
02 41 23 55 55

The AEI (Ecologically Intensive Farming) Chair

How to produce better with less

ESA is a founder-member of the AEI Chair for the promotion of agricultural production system, combining productivity with conservation of the environment.

The AEI Chair came into being in 2011 as the result of a partnership between three cooperatives (Terrena, Agrial and Triskalia) and three third-level teaching and research establishments (ESA, Oniris and Agrocampus Ouest). INRA became a member of the AEI Chair in 2013.

The ambition of the AEI Chair is to produce knowledge useful to ecologically Intensive Agriculture and contribute to its dissemination. The goal is to allow farmers and businesses to incorporate positively the environment and ecology as real levers of competitiveness and value creation.

The missions of the AEI Chair

  • Build and implement a system of professional training for the cooperatives’ employees about AEI.
  • Contribute to the initial training of the future actors in the agricultural world in the scientific disciplines and techniques related to AEI.
  • Set up a network of innovative farmers that will be a place to exchange views and valuable discussion.
  • Oversee research initiatives by the financing of theses and dissertations at the end of studies devoted to this issue.

The actions of the AEI Chair

  • Research programme
  • Professional training in three modules: management of soil fertility/preventative practices in livestock and animal health/alternative plant protection practices
  • Seminar

More information available at: