Colombian Ox

Angela Serrano

Ph.D. Candidate in sociology

at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Agroecology | Sociology | Engaged scholarship

Colombian Ox

Angela Serrano

Ph.D. Candidate in sociology

at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Agroecology | Sociology | Engaged scholarship


I am an environmental sociologist investigating equity and sustainability in food systems. My research builds dialogues between the political economy of global value chains, political ecology, and the sociology of agri-food systems. Through these dialogues, I study how different global industries shape livelihood opportunities for rural communities in Latin America.

My ongoing dissertation project examines how the palm oil industry has transformed lives and landscapes in the region of Magdalena Medio, Colombia. This project also builds on small-scale farmers’ experiences to identify possible transition pathways towards more sustainable and equitable agriculture.

I received my Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and received an M.A. in Geography from King’s College London, as well as undergraduate degrees in both economics and political science from Universidad de los Andes.

Click here to learn more about my research. Access my CV here or email me at


My research is based on ethnographically grounded value chain analysis and engaged scholarship. I study labor and ecological conditions in places of agricultural production, as well as their connections to global economic and cultural trends. This work is informed by, and seeks to support, the concerns and struggles of the farmers and farmworkers who participate in my research.

I invite you to read my articles published in Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space and the Journal of Political Ecology, as well as pieces for wider audiences I’ve written for various outlets. At the end of the page you can find the media coverage this work has received.

Journal Articles
Who is left behind in global food systems? Local farmers failed by Colombia’s avocado boom

Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, 2019

Making a Financial Market: the Economization and Topology of Farmland REITs

Journal of Political Ecology, 2019

Public Sociology
small scale farm in colombia
Can Small-Scale Farming Save Oil Palm?

Edge Effects Magazine

Colombian National Strike
Colombian National Strike: Reasons and Triggers for Protest (Spanish)

Colombian farmer and horse
Oil Palm Workers Confront a Fatal Blow Against Unions in Colombia

Collective of Agrarian Scholar-Activists from the South

Media mentions and appearances
Center for Historical Memory
"We Were Able to Narrate Our Struggle": Launching the Report that the Center for Historical Memory did not Prioritize (Spanish)


Palm union leaders in Colombia protest
Palm Oil Union Leaders: 40 Years Struggling for their Rights (Spanish)

La Paz en el Terreno

Card image cap
Mal Menor (Spanish)

Documentary by José David Escobar

a person holding an avocado cut in half
Who’s really paying for your avocado?

Asparragus Magazine


Teaching approach

I approach teaching as an opportunity to learn from my students about the different experiences they bring to the classroom and build on these experiences to apply the concepts we are studying.

Throughout my teaching career, discussing with students topics such as university life, music genres, and volunteer experiences has built productive spaces to learn about new topics and discuss different applications of sociological and environmental perspectives. I strive to create a welcoming environment for students with a diversity of backgrounds and learning styles. My classes are a mix of small and large group discussions with writing, game, debate, and drawing activities. I teach sociology and environmental studies as toolkits to better understand inequality and to forge socioenvironmental transformations in theoretically informed ways.

I was the lead instructor for a graduate seminar on Qualitative Research Methods in Social Sciences.

This class offers an overview of different methodological approaches in the social sciences. With 17 enrolled students, we analyzed different ways of applying qualitative research methodologies and their relevance to students’ research interests. The course is part of different masters’ and doctoral degrees in the School of Social Sciences at Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia. Click here to download the course syllabus.

I have trained new Teaching Assistants for advanced communication courses

I facilitated a session on motivating students about writing and speaking assignments and another one focused on teaching communications in a second language. This was an intense two-day training for over 60 new teaching assistants in communications courses from a variety of disciplines. Click here to download one of the handouts I designed for this training.

I have been a Teaching Assistant (TA) for Survey of Sociology for three semesters.

In this course, I led two discussion sections, each one with 15 students. We met twice per week to discuss assigned readings and develop advanced writing and speaking skills. Besides offering an introduction to the main subfields in sociology, this course fulfills the advanced communication course requirement at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Click here to download my section syllabus.

Qualitative Feedback

“Angela is an excellent instructor. She offers continuous support, constant feedback, and is always open to address questions or hold discussions during class and outside of class. The fact that she really knows about different methodologies and gives them the relevance and importance they deserve is valuable. The course activities promote a deep understanding of different perspectives and methodologies. (translation) ”

Student, Qualitative Research Methods, Fall 2020

“I thought Angela was an excellent TA. The discussion section helped me fully understand material and I thought each activity was relevant. I appreciated her genuine desire to help all of us and I felt as though she really cared and wanted us all to succeed. The Weekly worksheets were also very helpful and I appreciated them and thought they facilitated my learning. I don't think I would have done as well with a different TA”

Student, Survey of Sociology, Fall 2018

“Angela is a great TA. She's probably the best one I've had in college as a graduating senior. She's very friendly and inclusive to everyone. She makes sure everyone gets a turn to speak, and she knows the material well. Walking into discussion each class you never know what activity we are going to do which makes it fun. She's always incorporating new ways to learn the material. She grades fairly. Great TA!”

Student, Survey of Sociology, Spring 2018

“I loved having Angela as a TA! She constantly made adjustments to our discussion to ensure equal participants from students. Additionally, she presented quality examples that us students could easily relate to in order to understand key examples. She was also extremely helpful when meeting one-on-one. Overall, I would definitely recommend taking Sociology 210 with Angela to my friends!”

Student, Survey of Sociology, Fall 2017

If you would like to contact me to discuss my research or for teaching opportunities, I’m an email away!


If you want to know more about my professional and academic background, click here to download my CV.