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Course Information

Instructor Info:Elizabeth Conlisk
Office Extension x5519
Nancy Hanson
Office Extension x5599
Term: 2013F
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
09:00 AM - 10:20 AM Cole Science Center 333
09:00 AM - 10:20 AM Cole Science Center 333

This hands-on course examines food in the broadest sense, from its production in the field to its complex role in health promotion and disease prevention. Students learn basic principals of agriculture, plant science, nutrition and epidemiology, with an emphasis on the original research linking food and food production to human health. Readings for the class are drawn from the primary and secondary scientific literature and from agriculture and nutrition textbooks. Students also assist with the weekly vegetable harvest on Hampshire's organic farm.  This is an ideal course for students who are serious about scientific inquiry, community service and a few hours of farm work each week.

Course Objectives:

Div I goals in Natural Science

  • Learn to read primary scientific literature
  • Engage in independent inquiry
  • Work collaboratively in the classroom
  • Practice reading tables and figures
  • Improve scientific writing
  • Present independent work orally
  • Examine science in the broader context
Evaluation Criteria:
  • Regular class attendance (no more than 3 missed classes) and participation
  • Careful reading of all assigned papers
  • Satisfactory completion of assignments on time
  • Participation in farm/CSA activities each week (2 hours)
  • Active participation in small group work, including visit by Expeditionary School.

Assignment are to be printed out and turned in by the due date on the syllabus.

Notes on participation: This is not a large class and we need each of you to come prepared, i.e. read the assigned texts carefully, come to class with questions, opinions, concerns and then share them!  We know that is harder for some than others, but it is critical that everyone try.  Classes are more likely to drag (for everyone!) when you don’t participate.

Additional Info:

CSA harvest work shifts: Mon 1-4pm, Tues 7-9am, Thurs 1-4pm, Fri, 7-10am

Office Hours for Elizabeth (Cole 308):

Mon: 1:15-3:15, Thurs: 3:30-5:30.  Let me know if these don't work!

Office Hours for Nancy:

By appointment

Office hours for Thea Atwood: Tues 11-1 and Wed 2-4 at the Info Bar, or by appointment (

Text:  Almost all readings will be available in pdf form on the course website.  If you ever download and get a blank page, update Acrobat Reader, as old versions have been known to create that problem.  If that doesn’t solve it, please send us an email immediately and we will get right on it!  We encourage you to print out the articles so you can takes notes and have them to bring to class. We will refer to the readings, even specific tables, and it is best to have a paper copy in front of you.

In addition, we will read chapters from the following text:

Magdoff FR, van Es HM. 2009. Building Soils for Better Crops. 3rd
edition. Handbook Series Book 4. Sustainable Agriculture Network.

Attendance: We keep attendance and note when students are late or absent.  This will be mentioned in the narrative evaluation.  Given that class meets only twice a week, you are allowed to miss only three classes.  A fourth absence will negatively affect your evaluation.  Additional absences will result in No Evaluation or a failing grade--you will have missed too much important work.

Laptops:  It is becoming more common for students to rely on laptops in class to take notes or refer to the previous night’s readings, but it presents some challenges.  It is hard not to be distracted by email or favorite websites (we have been guilty of this ourselves!).  It is also very obvious when a student is distracted, both to us and to the other students in the class.  So unless you clear it with us in advance, we ask that you not use a laptop during class. 

Cell phones:  please turn them off so they don't ring or tempt you to check your texts!