GDEV 3400 - Agriculture, Food, Sustainability and Social Justice

Fall. 3 credits. Letter grades only.

Co-meets with GDEV 5400 .

R. Bezner Kerr.

How is our food produced: where, by whom and under what conditions? What are the major trends and drivers of the agriculture and food system? How has our agriculture and food system changed over time? What are some of the environmental, social, nutritional and health implications of our food system? In this course we will use a sociological perspective to examine the social, political, economic and environmental aspects of agriculture and food. We will consider the historical background to our food and agricultural system, and will look at different agriculture and food issues in the Global North and South. We will also examine examples of alternative agriculture and food approaches and concepts, such as food sovereignty, agroecology, food justice, fair trade and community-supported agriculture, all of which attempt to support more sustainable, socially equitable agriculture and food systems. Engaged, critical learning is encouraged, including regular field trips for hands-on learning, guest speakers and films as well as discussions and lecture-based classes.

Outcome 1: Discuss food and agriculture systems and how these are changing.

Outcome 2: Identify and understand the extent and importance of the social aspects of such systems and to interpret and evaluate food system information from a sociological perspective.

Outcome 3: Discuss food and agriculture system issues, including (a) what the issues are, (b) how opposing sides define the debates on these issues, what their respective definitions presuppose, and how they assess situations under contest, (c) what categories of people tend to be on opposing sides, and (d) what are the shorter- and longer-term social and environmental implications of these positions.

Outcome 4: Discuss food system topics rationally using sociological concepts and insights, especially when engaging people with whom you disagree.

Outcome 5: Get information about agriculture, food systems and modern society from personal observation and from print, electronic, and other sources.

Outcome 6: Work with others to (a) define practical, sociologically-informed questions, (b) research those questions, and (c) draw rational conclusions from the information gathered.

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