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Course Information

Instructor Info:Tatiana Schreiber
Term: 2013F
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
02:00 PM - 03:20 PM Cole Science Center 333
02:00 PM - 03:20 PM Cole Science Center 333

How and why did the foods we eat today get here? Who first thought of domesticating corn or wheat, and how did they do it? How have the ways food is grown changed over time and in different parts of the world? The central theme of this course is the relationship between human cultures and food systems over time. The course considers the ways in which the cultivation of food is both shaped by the ecosystems in which it is grown and changes that ecosystem, both positively and negatively. In addition the course asks how political and social forces affect how food is grown and distributed. Students will discover how an understanding of these dynamics influences our contemporary relationship to the foods we eat. Issues such as the conservation of biological and cultural diversity; the development and sustainability of local ecological knowledge; the loss of top soil and ways in which it can be rebuilt using both innovative and traditional farming methods; the effect of climate change on agriculture; and political policies concerning agriculture, trade and the environment will all be addressed in the course and in students' individual research projects.

Course Objectives:

The readings, class discussions, films, guest lectures and presentations students will engage with over the course of the semester are designed to help build an array of skills and understandings.  Students can expect to gain an appreciation of the overarching themes of the course  which concern:

*the relationships between cultural diversity, agricultural biodiversity, and food traditions;

*the concept and importance of local ecological knowledge as it relates to food production;

*the meaning and significance of biodiversity with regard to sustainability and resilience of both natural and agro-ecosystems;

*the impact on food systems (systems of production and distribution) on historical change in cultural, ecological, political and economic arenas; and

*the impact of our own choices and actions on the sustainability and resilience of agroecological systems.


Evaluation Criteria:

Completion of assignments and full participation in all activities as detailed below, including:

1.  Attend class. (See "General Policies and Guidelines for policy on Attendance)

2.  Complete and turn in all assignments by the due dates. (See General Policies and Guidelines for policy on due dates)

3.  Present your ideas – in class discussion, in team projects and in the presentation of your independent work.

4.  Turn in final reflective letter on your learning process.


Additional Info:

Welcome Everyone! Please click on the links below to learn more details about what we will be doing in class. The syllabus is a work in progress, so continue to check here often!

Please note that the first class has been postponed from September 5th to September 10th, because September 5th is Rosh Hashanah, and some students may not be able to attend. I wanted to start with a full complement of our class!

In the meantime, please do some background research (using whatever research skills and tools you have) on our author, Gary Paul Nabhan, and come to class prepared to discuss what you have learned. See you on the 10th!

Also of interest - this recent interview with Nabhan on the public radio program "On Point" about his latest book: